LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Five years ago, Syria was the world’s second largest refugee-hosting country. After three years of conflict, Syrians are about to replace Afghans as the biggest refugee population worldwide. What impact are they having on neighbouring countries? Who is supporting them? Who is not?
- More than 2.5 million Syrians have fled their country - a figure that could exceed 4 million by the end of the year.
- The number of Syrian refugees hosted by Lebanon as a ratio of its population would be equivalent to nearly 15 million in France, 32 million in Russia or 71 million in the United States.
- The World Bank estimates unemployment in Lebanon may double by the end of the year. An additional 170,000 Lebanese risk being pushed into poverty and the cost of the Syria crisis to the country could reach $ 7.5 billion.
- Turkey has received 10 times as many Syrians as the entire European Union. It has already spent over $2.5 billion helping them.
- Jordan estimates the cost of supporting Syrian refugees at some $1.7 billion so far. The government is paying hundreds of millions worth of subsidies to ensure refugees have access to affordable water, bread, gas and electricity.
- In northern Iraq, the population of Dohuk governorate has increased by more than 10 percent due to the refugee influx.
- Some 43,000 Syrians claimed asylum in Europe in 2013, compared to more than 1.7 million new arrivals registering in countries neighbouring Syria in the same period.
- Overall, 81,000 Syrians have sought protection in the European Union, Norway and Switzerland - around 3 percent of the total who have fled Syria.
- Sixty percent of all Syrian applicants in the European Union have claimed asylum in just two countries – Sweden and Germany. (There are big disparities in asylum procedures across EU countries, despite plans to create a common system.)
- Around 6,600 Syrians arrived in Bulgaria last year, after crossing from Turkey. The EU’s poorest country, which has been criticised over its treatment of asylum seekers, has sent an additional 1,500 police to the Turkish border.
- Greece has built a wall along part of its border with Turkey, and Bulgaria is planning to do the same. The head of the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) has said he deplores the erection of fences at Europe’s borders.
Sources: UNHCR, European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE)
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