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Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Espen Barth Eide and Ambassador of the Norwegian mission to the UN, Mr. Steffen Kongstad. 
Photo: The Norwegian Mission to the UN.Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Espen Barth Eide and Ambassador of the Norwegian mission to the UN, Mr. Steffen Kongstad. Photo: The Norwegian Mission to the UN

Foreign minister Eide at the UNHCR meeting on Syria and the refugee humanitarian crisis

Last updated: 30.09.2013 // A high-level meeting on the crisis in Syria and the impact of the refugee crisis on the neighbouring countries was convened on the occasion of the Executive Committee of the United Nation´s high commissioner of refugees (UNHCR) annual meeting.

From September 30 until October 4, 2013, delegates from around the world attended the annual meeting in Geneva. The high-level opening segment focused on the Syrian crisis and ways that the international community can help countries that are hosting Syrian refugees. Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq addressed their concern to deal with the over 2 million refugees from Syria, half of them children. These countries are opening their boarders and taking in thousands of refugees. There are now more than 760,000 refugees in Lebanon, 525,000 in Jordan, 490,000 in Turkey, 190,000 in Iraq and over 125,000 in Egypt. In addition, there are hundreds of thousands more who did not register or were already living in these countries as economic migrants. This in addition to the internally displaces and suffering civilians  inside Syria. The crisis is creating huge burdens on the neighbouring countries when it comes to health systems, school and education and sanitarian issues.

António Guterres, the High Commissioner for Refugees stated that ”Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq have been sheltering an unrelenting flood of Syrian refugees, saving lives and providing protection. They have been generous hosts to their neighbours, but all of them are stretched to their limits" and appealed for the member states to help alleviate the burden on these countries. He furthermore stated that "The crisis in Syria is affecting the entire Middle East and has become a moral issue for the entire international community".

His statements was followed by strong appeals from the neighbouring countries. UN-agencies and the World bank supported their efforts and echoed the calls for more support to the Syrias neighbours.

The German minister of foreign affairs encouraged the international community to follow them as an example and addressed how they are to take in 5000 refugees in addition to the already 19 000 Syrian refugees already living in Germany. Sweden also together with other countries affirmed their support, and that they would accept Syrian refugees. Countries from Africa and Asia that are also hosting large number of refugees were particularly supportive of the initiative to have this high level meeting focusing on burden sharing and solidarity  in refugee-crises.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, Mr. Eide, announced that Norway would continue the humanitarian efforts, expand the quota for resettlement, and increase cooperation with neighbouing countries and development actors. He pointed to the momentum that the UN Security Council resolution on cemical weapons had given for a poltical solution and called for a strong resulotion on humanitarian access to all Syrians in need.

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