THE SITUATION OF THE REFUGEES OF THE WAR IN IRAQ AND SYRIA
The refugees from Iraq and Syria were more and more badly off over the last year. Is the UNHCR, the refugee organization of the United Nations, running out of money? Yes and no, the funding did not decrease, but the number of refugees has doubled. The donating nations look somewhere else: they have to deal with refugee crises in their own countries.
Over the last weeks, there have been several news reports about increasing numbers of refugees from Iraq and Syria coming to Europe, because their situation deteriorated drastically in the surrounding refugee camps. That by the lack of funding by the refugee organization of the United Nations, the UNHCR. Sister Hatune also experienced this during her last two trips to the Middle East. She said, that mostly dire are the circumstances for the people living outside the official camps. We want to give some background on this.
FOR EXAMPLE, GERMANY: WHICH REFUGEES ARE COMING
According to the German authorities, the share of refugees from Iraq and Syria has not increased, lately; it has rather decreased slightly. This is remarkable, as there is a vivid trade of false Syrian Passports in the whole Middle East and Libya. They are either blank original documents seized by the Islamic State or newly forged ones, mainly in Turkey. The number of true Syrian refugees could therefore be even smaller.
About 75% of the refugees that are arriving in Germany right now do not come from Iraq and Syria, but from other countries in Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans. About 80% of the refugees are male and between 18 and 45 years old.
In opposite to that, the real refugees of the war in Iraq and Syria are an image of their countries of origin: men and women are evenly distributed (50.3% women), as well as children, young and old people (http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php). Only very old people flee less.
REFUGEES AND INTERNALLY DISPLACED PEOPLE
The UNHCR counted 4.6 Million refugees from Syria and 220.000 from Iraq, that left their countries. Besides, there are 6.5 Million Syrians, that have been displaced in their own country, and 3.2 million Iraqis. 2.5 million refugees live in Turkey, 1.1 million in Lebanon, 650 thousand in Jordan. As Turkey take the biggest amount of people, it is Lebanon that has the biggest burden, because the refugees amount to a quarter of the total population there.
CAMPS, INFORMAL SETTLEMENTS, ILLEGALS
The greatest misconception is, that all the refugees would live in the camps of the UNHCR – they run 25 camps in Turkey and Jordan. But they only host 11% of the total numbers om refugees in the area. The others live inside informal settlements; of which many have grown into huge slums. Many of the dwellings are poorly jointed, sometimes made of leftovers. People also live in garages or cellars, where most of them have to pay a rent; less people can live with relatives or friends, very few can afford an own flat. On top of that, there are many living illegally, because they do not want to be registered by the UNHCR. Their number is unknown.
MORE REFUGEES – LESS FUNDING
Right now, the program of the UNHCR are funded up to 56%. Some weeks ago, they could avert a more serious underfunding by a big donation campaign, that gained funds from 200 institutional donors. Some months before the funding ran short down to 37%. The situation was much better in 2014. This translates to Lebanon, for example, that 75% of refugees there got food support 30$ per month, and this support got down to 21.60$ for only 50% of refugees in 2015.
But the main reason is not the decrease of contributions to UNHCR, they remained stable over the last years, but the steady increase in refugee numbers. It has doubled in only one year. It would take, according to the UNHCR spokesperson Ariane Rummery an all new aid architecture, a broader approach to solve this crisis. The international community is reacting too slowly, mainly because the donating countries are too busy with their own refugee crises.
NO HOPE, NO CHANGE
Despite the shortage of funding, the situation is still the best in the official camps – people are taken care of. But there also live many people for much too long, since one year, some since two years. They initially thought to be able to return to their home villages, now they have all given up this hope. Sister Hatune reported about an overall spirit of depressiveness, resignation to fate. People see no future there. Children get no education, young people no professional perspective. Nobody is officially allowed to work, and if they do, they are exploited by black labor, earning 15$ for 12 hours of work. The refugees experience bureaucratic bullying and do not feel safe in their surroundings. On top of that, according to UNHCR, three quarters are deeply in debt, because they pay for a long time all rent, food, medicine and clothing by credit. (http://www.unhcr.org/560523f26.html)
LEAVE, IF YOU CAN. REFUGEES WELCOME
Thus, everybody, who is able to find some money, is trying to flee, to come to Europe. Fleeing costs money, with or without an escape agent, by bus or by boat, even afoot. There are not many from Iraq and Syria, that can afford this. Thereby the formerly mentioned 75% comes about. The German government, excessively unable to cope with the sheer number of arriving people, make no efforts to discriminate between asylum seekers, war refugees and poverty immigrants. No matter where they come from, all are welcome to come in. This noble intended gesture will do double damage: the German population is (also) not able to recognize the true und the phony refugees, which will produce a backlash against all immigrants, including the ones, who live already here. And it takes the focus off the real victims of this war: the ones that hold out in and around Iraq and Syria, hoping for a better future for themselves and their homelands.
OUR APPROACH: LOCAL HELP
Hatune Foundation cares for the victims of the war in the Middle East ever since. Sister Hatune brings aid to the needy, mainly to the ones, who live outside the UNHCR camps. Please help with a donation to ease those people’s lives.