UN urges resettlement of 10 percent of Syria refugees
The UN refugee agency on Tuesday urged nations worldwide to show solidarity with Syria's neighbours and help resettle 10 percent of the millions of refugees from the war-ravaged country.
"The world has a debt of gratitude to the neighbouring countries that probably we'll never be able to fully pay or to fully express," UN refugee chief Antonio Guterres told a high-level pledging conference on resettlement for Syrian refugees.
The UNHCR has called on countries by 2016 to help resettle some 130,000 of the more than 3.2 million registered refugees amassed in Syria's neighbours since the conflict erupted in March 2011.
But Guterres said at least 10 percent of the refugees would be best served through resettlement.
"When we are hoping for 130,000 offers of resettlement... this is not our goal," he said.
The actual aim, he added, "is to have the possibility to have, in the near future, resettlement or humanitarian admission possibilities for one tenth of the refugee population in the neighbouring countries".
Even after a political solution is found to end the civil war, resettlement will remain an "important tool", he said.
The conflict has already left more than 200,000 people dead, according to a monitoring group, and driven nearly half the population from their homes.
Guterres appealed to delegates from around 40 countries to step up and help host nations Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, which are all but buckling under the pressure.
Pointing out that people in the host communities are now themselves facing job shortages, soaring prices, strained infrastructure, overcrowded schools and hospitals, and insecurity as a result of the refugee influx, Guterres demanded solidarity.
"I believe that these countries deserve massive support from the international community," he said, calling not only for "massive financial support" but also "a clear expression of solidarity that a resettlement and humanitarian admission programme represents".
© 2014 AFP