How can the international community help Syrian refugees and Syria's neighbouring countries cope with the impact of the world's largest humanitarian crisis since World War II? This downloadable footage includes exclusive interviews, recent footage of the crisis (Febraury 2015) and AP Archive video footage from 2011-2014.
15 March 2015 will mark four years since the start of the Syrian conflict: the continuing strain on Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt in hosting over 3.8 million Syrian refugees is taking its toll on the countries' economies and infrastructure.
Arrivals of new refugees are increasingly being restricted as the host countries express concern that resentment against the refugees’ extended presence could yet spill over into civil strife, and further destabilize the region – a fear echoed by a number of respected Middle East experts.
How can the international community help neighbouring countries and the refugees themselves cope with the impact of this crisis, as the Syrian conflict enters its fifth year, with no end in sight?
THIS VIDEO NEWS RELEASE (7 mins 45 secs) CONTAINS:
- Exclusive interview in Arabic with Lebanese Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas, describing Lebanese stability as “shaken”, and affirming that Syrian refugee influx has cost Lebanon $US20 billion.
- Interviews in English with Claus Sørensen, Director General, European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection; and Dr Christopher Phillips, Senior Lecturer in International Relations of the Middle East, University of London.
- Recent (February 2015) footage of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey, including sequences of border crossing; refugee registration; living conditions both inside and outside refugee camps; food and winter items distribution and purchase; refugees receiving health and maternity care etc.
- AP archive video of the Syrian Conflict 2011-2014 (licensed for free use until 12 April 2015).
The Syrian conflict has triggered the world's largest humanitarian crisis since World War II. The European Union and its Member States collectively are one of the main leaders of the international response. More than €3.35 billion has been mobilised for relief and recovery assistance to Syrians in their country and to refugees and their host communities in neighbouring Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. Lebanon (population 4.4 million) is hosting about 1.2 million Syrian refugees. None of them live in formal camps. The influx of Syrian refugees has increased the population of Lebanon by 27% in three years.Lebanon now has more refugees per head of population than any country in the world: 257 refugees per 1000 inhabitants.
Education: In 2011, there were 300,000 Lebanese children in public schools. In 2014, Lebanon has 395,000 additional Syrian children of school age. Healthcare, water and electricity supply, are all severely overloaded. Since 2011, the number of people in Lebanon living below the poverty line has increased by 60%. Unemployment has doubled to 20% in that period.
The World Bank estimates that the Syrian conflict has wiped 2.9% off Lebanon’s Gross Domestic Product each year since 2012. Largely because of increased spending on public services for the refugee population, Lebanon’s fiscal deficit has widened by an estimated $US2.7 billion since 2012. Since January 2015, most new refugee arrivals will have to obtain a visa.
Turkey: According to the UN refugee Agency, Turkey has spent over $US 5 billion towards cost related to hosting its 1.65 million Syrian refugees, the largest Syrian refugee population in one country in the world. Only 230,000 are in camps, the remainder live in the community.
The refugee population is concentrated in areas close to the Syrian border but also in cities such as Istanbul. For instance, the town of Kilis, a town close to the border of Syria that has seen a great influx of refugees, which has a health infrastructure designed for its pre-existing population of 89,000 – and yet its and whose health services are now shared with an additional 75,000 Syrian refugees.
Jordan: There are more than 620,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan. About 85% of them live outside refugee camps. The government estimates that the cost of hosting Syrian refugees since 2011 has reached $US5 billion. The authorities have spent several hundred million dollars on extra subsidies for water, bread and electricity. As in Lebanon, the burden on healthcare, water supply and education is severe. Jordan has now effectively closed its borders to new refugees.
Iraq: There are now more than 242,000 Syrian refugees in the Kurdistan region of Iraq – the number of new arrivals has tripled since December 2012. Around sixty percent two-thirds of the refugees live outside camps, in urban areas, many in precarious conditions. As elsewhere, public services and the labour market have been severely affected. The influx of Syrian refugees had added to the pressure created by the existence of over two million internally displaced persons inside Iraq.
0000 Waiver and titles.
Interview in Arabic with Rashid Derbas, Lebanese Social Affairs Minister (Interviewed in Beirut 2 March 2015). Translation:
00 13“ There are some negative impacts on the Lebanese economy that can’t be compensated by the amount of money spent by Syrians or by the donor agencies. The losses incurred are no less than 20 billion dollars.”
00 37 “It won’t lead to a civil war, but Lebanese stability is shaken and no one can deny that fact. We say when the number of refugees is about a third of the country’s population, then it isn’t an acceptable situation.”
Interview with Claus Sørensen, Director General, European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (Interviewed Brussels 19 February 2015):
00 55 “I cannot underline enough the plight and the burden that is put on these countries, and I think it’s the responsibility of the international community to recognize that we need political solutions and, pending those political solutions, we need to come in with sufficient help and assistance to keep them afloat, and cater for the needs – not only of the refugees – but also of the host communities that have so generously opened the doors to their villages, to their homes, to their schools, to their clinics, to actually offer assistance to their neighbours.”
01 30 “The humanitarians have to stay there, but what is equally important is that we have to support the resilience of the local communities. So that when their schooling system is overburdened, or their clinics are overburdened, there is collaboration with the municipalities and with the local authorities to keep these services afloat. So finance, which is not necessarily humanitarian finance, but finance more of a development nature, has to come in.”
Interview with Dr Christopher Phillips, Senior Lecturer in International Relations of the Middle East, University of London (Interviewed Beirut 13 February 2015):
02 00 “What’s interesting when you talk to humanitarian experts, they say the solution to this is to integrate these refugees and give them a stake in their host economies, and yet when you speak to host governments, that’s the last thing that they want. Now what we really need is some kind of bridging exercise, some kind of bridging motion, from the international community between the refugees and the host communities to make that work, but we haven’t seen that.”
02 26 “The danger isn’t the immediate term, it’s the long term. If you look at the impact of other refugee crises elsewhere in the world, the Palestinian refugee crisis, the 1940’s and 1950s, those in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan and so on, you have the danger that a long-term presence of refugees that aren’t getting integrated into their host populations, and yet have no prospect of returning home, can end up being radicalized, can end up being even further impoverished, and that can lead to possibly the militarization of those refugees which can become a security threat, or just in general the creation of a massive underclass which will lead to some levels of civil strife.”
03 09 Refugees crossing border from Syria into Turkey (Oncupinar border crossing, near Kilis, Southern Turkey (9 February 2015).
03 26 Distribution of winter items to Syrian refugees by Danish Refugee Council (9 February). Kilis, Southern Turkey. Items distributed include mattresses, blankets, hygiene kits.
03 42 Soup kitchen in Gaziantep Turkey. Run by the local authorities with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and with funding from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), as of 1 April 2015. This centre, along with two others in Gaziantep, serves food six days a week, once a day, for vulnerable refugees and low-income Turkish families. The centres serve hot meals for 7,000 people each day, including 4000 Syrian refugees, who will be able to continue benefitting from the service as a result of ECHO funding for 7 months. Recipients are registered as particularly vulnerable by the Turkish authorities in order to receive food. (10 February 2015).
04 08 Syrian refugees newly arrived from Turkey into Kurdistan region, Iraq (Ibrahim Khalil border point, near Dohuk (4 February 2015). They board buses for transportation to Gawilan reception/registration camp. Syrian refugees into Iraq total over 220,000.
04 30 Refugee registration by UNHCR, Gawilan Camp, Kurdistan Region, Iraq. Between 100-400 refugees are crossing the border every day between Turkey and Iraq. Between 6 January and 4 February, 3600 new Syrian refugees were registered. The camp is in a remote part of the Kurdistan region. Although most newly registered refugees leave to make their way outside the camp, about 4600 refugees have been living there for about a year, with nowhere to go. The regional government says all the other camps in the region are already full. (4 February 2015)
04 53 Domiz Refugee Camp, near Dohuk, Iraqi Kurdistan Region. Over 50,000 refugees live here, mostly Syrian Kurds. (4-5 February)
05 08 Zaatari refugee Camp, Jordan: Home to 120,000 Syrian refugees. (1 February)
05 24 UNFPA clinic in Zaatari camp: Syrian refugee woman receives maternity care and advice. Around 15 babies are born here every day. (1 February 2015)
05 41 Zaatari Refugee Camp “supermarket”, run by UN’s World Food Programme (WFP). Refugees pay here with vouchers received from the UN refugee agency, UNHCR and Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). (1 February)
06 03 Al-Mafraq Government Hospital, Mafraq, Jordan: Syrian refugee getting eye test. (1 February 2015)
06 23 Bekaa valley Lebanon: informal settlement for Syrian refugees. There are no formal camps in the country. Lebanon: informal settlement in Bekaa Valley, near Qab Elias. (13 February 2015)
AP archive video :
This material is licensed for free use without restriction until 12 April 2015 only.
It is not licensed for use beyond that date.
06 44 2 March 2012 Idlib, Syria: Anti-government demonstration after Friday prayers
06 58 3-4 July 2012 Homs, Syria: Amateur video showing shelling of Homs, purportedly by Syrian army tanks.
07 11 8 September 2012 Aleppo Syria: Syrian rebels fighting
07 27 19 September 2014 Dikmetas, Turkey: Syrian refugees crossing into Turkey.
07 40 Contact for further information.
07 45 Ends