HRW says countries taking Syrian refugees need reforms

Human Rights Watch says countries where Syrian refugees seek asylum need reforms to prevent violation of fundamental rights

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Syrian refugee children watch as British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond visits Al Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria on February 1, 2016.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday that countries where Syrian refugees sought asylum needed reforms such as ending harsh policies on registration, deportation and education that violates fundamental rights.

According to a report released by the HRW, these refugees should not be sent back to their war-torn country, refugee registration requirements should be made less restrictive and access to education should be made easier for Syrian children.

"This conference needs to set a new agenda on Syrian refugees, making respecting their fundamental rights the top priority," HRW refugee program Director Bill Frelick said during a one-day donors conference in London.

"Host countries in which refugees make up as much as a quarter of the population need vastly more donor assistance, but that money won't help Syrians who are being pushed back or driven to destitution by harsh policies," Frelick added.

The nearly five-year Syrian civil war has killed more than 250,000 people, driven out more than 10 million from their homes, with 6 million Syrians displaced within the country and more than 4 million others having left for Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and beyond.

"Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey have all restricted entry to refugees from Syria in 2015 and pushed back asylum seekers or forcibly returned refugees in violation of their international obligations," HRW said.

In recent months, large numbers of Syrians were stranded at the Jordanian border in difficult conditions due to slow registration and screening systems.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai speaks during the first focus event on education at the donors Conference for Syria in London, Britain on February 4, 2016 (Reuters)

According to a report by the Malala Fund founded by Pakistani education campaigner and Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, some 700,000 Syrian children in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and other Middle Eastern countries are out of school.

HRW called on donors, including the United States, European Union and Gulf states, to share the burden for hosting Syrian refugees with Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.

The United Nations agencies are appealing for close to $8 billion this year to tackle with the humanitarian disaster caused by the Syrian civil war.

Germany has already pledged $2.3 billion by 2018, Britain $1.75 billion by 2020 and Norway $1.17 billion by 2020.

Geneva talks, the first UN-mediated proximity talks in two years on ending Syria’s five-year-old civil war, were suspended on Wednesday after just a few days amid acrimony between representatives of the Syrian regime and the opposition.

The talks are set to resume on Feb. 25.

TRTWorld and agencies