We have seen the images, the news reports, the desperate cries for help. The situation in Syria has been described by the UN as “the greatest humanitarian tragedy of our times”. And with more people displaced globally now than any time since World War II, the situation is looking bleak.
While we welcome decisions this week news about additional refugee places opening up across the world, we must recognise that these are only first steps.
Conflict in Syria has already killed 220,000 people, displaced 7.6 million and forced more than 4 million to flee to neighbouring countries. More than 300,000 people have risked their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea this year and at least 2,600 people have died in the attempt (according to Plan International). On 26 August, 52 bodies were found in the hull of a ship, on 27 August, Austrian police discovered the corpses of 71 people in an abandoned truck, that evening came news of another tragic shipwreck in which 200 people may have died.
The next day the world saw the images of a drowned toddler washed up on a Turkish beach.
Amnesty International has stated that the crisis is a sad indictment of European leaders’ failures to provide safe ways to reach the continent. And INGO’s are asking governments to do more to help this situation, particularly the leaders of Europe who have been criticised for not accepting responsibility in an unprecedented refugee crisis. VP of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini, said that Europe has a moral and legal duty to protect asylum seekers.
Turkey is currently hosting 1.8 million Syrian refugees, and despite today’s announcement from the Australian government that they will increase intake numbers, countries like ours need to take greater responsibility. 12,000 people is simply not enough. Let us also not forget that the few Syrians who have already made it to Australia’s shores will be languishing in Australian run detention-centres for over two years.
The international community must provide greater humanitarian support for refugees in countries bordering Syria, robustly tackle human trafficking and step up search and rescue operations to save those in peril at sea. Intrepid has worked with Amnesty International since 2002 and support their campaign petitioning governments to resettle Syrian refugees in addition to their current quota.
Want to show your support? Please sign the petition at www.amnesty.org
Our thoughts go out to all those affected by the crisis in Syria,
Feature image c/o Freedom House, Flickr