The United Nations said on Tuesday it was seeking to re-settle 1 in 10 Syrian; i.e. more than 450,000 Syrian refugees now in neighboring countries, by the end of 2018, but agreed that it was fighting against prevalent fear and politicization of the issue.
A ministerial-level conference is being held in Geneva on Wednesday with the participation of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
“Refugees fleeing conflict and violence and arriving in Europe carry an important message: addressing their plight cannot only be the task of countries and communities that are close to wars. It is a global responsibility that must be widely shared until peace prevails again,” Grandi said.
“Giving at least some Syrian refugees an opportunity to move on to better lives, and relieving the burden on countries hosting millions of refugees are important gestures of solidarity. Let us not miss this opportunity,” Grandi added.
The conference is one of several main events in 2016 to do with Syria’s refugees. It follows February’s London Conference on Syria which focused on the financial dimensions of the humanitarian challenge posed by the more than 13.5 million people in need inside Syria and the 4.8 million refugees in the surrounding region along with the needs of communities in countries hosting them. And it comes in the run up to September’s summit on refugees to be held at the General Assembly meeting.
“The international context we are in – and nobody is naive about that – we know very well we’re dealing with a complex situation, increasing fear in many countries, increasing politicization of refugee, displacement and asylum issues. This is a difficult thing,” UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told a news briefing in response to a question.