'Resettle Syrian refugees', charities tell UK's Cameron

by Katie Nguyen | Katie_Nguyen1 | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 18 September 2013 17:11 GMT

Syrian refugee children eat fruit under a tent at the Majdal Anjar refugee camp in Bekaa Valley near the Syrian border in eastern Lebanon. Photo September 9, 2013. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi

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British refugee charities say Syrian refugees are imposing unacceptable burden on neighbouring countries, more should be brought to Britain

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Britain should accept more refugees from Syria to ease the humanitarian crisis there and help its neighbours struggling to cope with an influx of people fleeing the war, a group of UK refugee charities said on Wednesday.

In an open letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, the Refugee Council, Refugee Action, and the Scottish and Welsh Refugee Councils urged Britain to establish a "substantial and co-ordinated resettlement programme".

Britain has committed £400 million ($639 million) to helping those affected by the Syrian civil war, its largest ever response to a humanitarian crisis.

But campaigners said financial support was not enough.

More than 97 percent of the 2 million people who have fled the fighting are being hosted by neighbouring countries, placing an overwhelming burden on their infrastructures, economies and societies, the letter signed by Refugee Council Chief Executive Maurice Wren said.

As of this week, Lebanon was hosting some 748,000 Syrian refugees, Jordan 531,000, Turkey 492,000 and Iraq 190,000. There were also 124,000 Syrian refugees in Egypt, according to figures from the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR.  

"They urgently need massive international support to help them deal with the crisis," Wren wrote to Cameron. "We urge you to consider how the UK and European Union might best share some of the responsibility for providing Syrians with the protection they need."

The charities called on Cameron to work with the UNHCR on an immediate programme of emergency humanitarian evacuations of refugees judged to be in most need.

They also asked the UK government to make it possible for Syrians to join family members who have been recognised as refugees in Britain.

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