Syria refugee crisis: is your country doing its fair share?

Syrian children gather outside a school, in front of a gate and barb wires in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, on September 21, 2015. Photo: Sam Tarling/Oxfam
Syrian children gather outside a school in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, on September 21, 2015. As a host country Jordan is estimated to spend $870 million a year supporting Syrian refugees. Photo: Sam Tarling/Oxfam

Action needed on aid, refuge, and to end the bloodshed 

The terrible suffering of civilians in Aleppo is a sharp reminder that Syrians need protection and assistance by the international community. Governments have failed so far to stop the bloodshed in the country, with hundreds of thousands killed and millions more displaced or crossing to other countries to become refugees. 

Oxfam is calling for an end to the massive violations of human rights which are causing people to flee their homes. All countries must also do more to help those who are affected by the violence. A key part of this will be rich countries accepting vulnerable refugees through resettlement and other forms of humanitarian admission. 

Where do refugees live?

Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey host the vast majority of the Syrians registered as refugees and, along with Iraq and Egypt, have faced the refugee crisis with limited financial support from other states. They are stretched to breaking point. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has estimated that at least 10 percent of the refugee population in countries neighboring Syria are particularly vulnerable and in need of resettlement.

However, less than three percent of these nearly five million refugees living in Syria’s neighboring states - around 130,000 people - have been resettled in rich countries. In Lebanon alone,  one out of five people are now refugees.  Turkey, the top refugee-hosting country in the world, has currently 2,764,500 registered Syrian refugees.

Rich countries promised to commit on resettlement processes. Very few have taken action. They have also failed to provide safe and legal routes for Syrians to their countries.

Resettlement commitments and the reality in numbers

UK: Although Canada resettled about 35,000 Syrians in the last year, the UK has resettled just a bit more than  3,000. When compared to the size of the economy of each country this means that, since the start of the Syria conflict, Canada has welcomed 248 percent of its fair share of vulnerable refugees, and the UK a meager 18 percent.

USA: Despite sending more personnel to Syria’s neighboring states to aid the process, the US has only met 10% of its fair share of resettling refugees. 

Spain has rejected a request from UNHCR to provide 500 visas for Syrian students from Jordan and Lebanon, despite overwhelming public support for resettlement. 

In Russia, only two Syrians have received refugee status, despite the country being party to the 1951 refugee convention. In comparison, Lebanon alone hosts more than 1 million Syrian refugees.

Resettlement: a must for the most vulnerable 10 percent

We are calling on the international community to share the responsibility for refugees more equitably, by offering resettlement or other humanitarian admissions to the most vulnerable 10 percent of Syrian refugees by the end of 2017, in addition to other means of admission, like family reunification and student visas.

What you can do

Find out if your country is doing its fair share, please read Oxfam's new report:

Where there’s a will, there’s a way: safe havens needed for refugees from Syria

Updated 16 December 2016