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The New Arab

UN to resettle ten percent of Syria's 4.8m refugees

Syrians refugees have increasingly set their sights on Europe [Getty]

Date of publication: 29 March, 2016

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The UN aims to resettle at least one-in-ten of Syria’s 4.8 million refugees in neighbouring countries by 2018 despite increasing fears and objections, UNHCR spokesman said on Tuesday.
One-tenth of Syria's 4.8 million refugees in neighbouring countries, including Turkey, may be resettled by the end of 2018, UNHCR confirmed on Tuesday.

The organisation is working to fight growing fears and the politicisation of the refugee crisis, its spokesman said.

Officials in Lebanon, one of the key host countries for Syrian refugees, have often expressed categorical rejection for any resettlement of Syrian -- or Palestinian -- refugees on its territories.

"The international context we are in –and nobody is naive about that – we know very well we’re dealing with a complex situation," UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said, "[the] Increasing fears in many countries [and the] increasing politicisation of refugee, displace and asylum issues. This is a difficult thing."

Edwards made the comments at a press briefing on Tuesday ahead of Wednesday's conference in Geneva, which will be led by UN secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

The UN-hosted ministerial-level meeting session will see states propose resettlement spots for Syrian refugees.

UNHCR's Filippo Grandi is also due to attend the conference.

Earlier this month, Grandi called on European countries to share the burden of refugees with Turkey.

"The most important thing is to help Turkey bear the burden, responsibility by taking people, not in the thousands or tens of thousands but in the hundreds of thousands," Grandi urged.

Wealthy countries have resettled only a fraction of the nearly five million refugees who have fled Syria, British charity Oxfam revealed on Tuesday.

So far, rich countries have pledged fewer than 130,000 resettlement spots, and only around 67,100 people - a mere 1.39 percent of the refugees - have made it to their final destinations since 2013, the charity said.

As the brutal conflict enters its sixth year, most of the people who have fled are located in Syria's immediate neighbours such as Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

But as the war has dragged on and conditions have worsened in the surrounding countries, Syrians have increasingly set their sights on Europe, accounting for most of the more than one million migrants who risked their lives crossing the Mediterranean last year.

They are also believed to be heavily represented among the more than 7,500 people, including many children, who have died trying to make the crossing since 2014.

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