27 November 2014

In a new report ‘Struggling to Survive: Refugees from Syria in Turkey’, Amnesty International (AI) severely criticises the international community’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis which has left “the hopes of safety and security for most refugees cruelly denied”.  With funding to support the humanitarian effort as well as resettlement commitments entirely inadequate, AI denounces that Syria’s neighbours have disproportionately shouldered the responsibility to receive the refugees.

AI notes that Turkey as well as Syria’s other neighbouring countries, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, are bearing the brunt of the refugee crisis, hosting altogether 97% of the 3.2 million registered Syrian refugees, while the world’s most prosperous countries are failing to respond. In just three days this September, Turkey took in over 130,000 refugees, more than the EU received over the past three years.  In terms of resettlement and humanitarian admission to refugees in the neighbouring countries, Germany’s commitment to accept 28,500 refugees stands in stark contrast to the rest of the EU who together have guaranteed less than 5,000 places. In addition, the UN’s 2014 regional funding appeal for Syrian refugees in the whole region of $3.74 billion remains only 51% funded.

While commending Turkey’s significant resource commitment and many positive policy initiatives to deal with the refugee crisis, particularly in light of the failings of the international community, AI notes that the limitations of Turkey’s response is increasingly visible. AI reports on serious human rights abuses suffered by refugees fleeing Syria in and trying to enter Turkey. While Turkey officially maintains an open border policy, AI found that people without passports are routinely denied access at official border crossings unless they have urgent medical or humanitarian needs.  For those who must cross irregularly, AI reports that they may face serious human rights abuses such as push-backs, being fired at with live ammunition, or torture and other ill-treatment. Furthermore, once in the country, the status of the refugees who have fled the war in Syria is not entirely clear or secure according to the organisation. Those who are not accommodated in camps, which are running at full capacity at 220,000 people out of the 1.6 million refugees who are currently in Turkey, are left to fend for themselves meaning destitution is widespread.


This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 27 November 2014. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.