In a new report, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) found that refugees are facing increasing obstacles in fleeing Syria.

More than 3 million Syrian refugees are hosted in neighbouring countries, whose social and economic stability has been severely impacted by the Syrian crisis. NRC and IRC explain that in an attempt to reduce the arrivals of Syrian refugees, neighbouring countries have tightened border controls. They highlight that the number of refugees registered by UNHCR in October 2014 in neighbouring countries amounted to approximately 18,453, a figure that represents an 88% drop from the 2013 monthly average. Furthermore, as a result of such policies, refugees are forced to use more dangerous routes, including crossing over land-mined areas to escape the conflict.

The report shows that since early September 2014, Syrian asylum seekers faced restrictions when attempting to cross the Lebanese border and highlights that in October 2014, 60% of the Syrian refugees trying to cross into Lebanon were turned away. Furthermore, Palestinian refugees from Syria have been restricted from entering Lebanon for over a year, according to NRC and IRC.

Jordan has also adopted more restrictive controls at the borders since the beginning of 2013. NRC and IRC stress that more people are now returning to Syria from Jordan rather than entering the country due to lack of means of livelihood, or in an attempt to reunite with family members who could not enter or were returned from Jordan.

The organisations also highlight that Syrians without identity documents face obstacles in entering Turkey. This is why many Syrians have tried to cross through irregular border crossings, while many others remain in camps inside Syria just along the border with Turkey.

Iraq’s borders have been intermittently closed during the past 18 months.

NRC and IRC urge the international community to increase its humanitarian and development support for Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq, as well as to expand their resettlement and humanitarian admission or immigration programmes. Taking into account the social, economic and security challenges faced by Syria neighbouring states, the organisations call on Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq to create a joint appeal outlining the support needed from the international community to ensure that their borders remain open to people fleeing the Syrian conflict.


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This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 21November 2014. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.