GUE/NGL MEPs urge Member States to prioritise refugees’ safety in their decisions today and tomorrow
Over the weekend, three GUE/NGL MEPs visited the Zaatari camp in Jordan that currently hosts 80,000 Syrian refugees and spoke with officials from the EU Delegation, UNHCR, IOM, UNRWA, and the Jordanian Minister for Planning and International Development.
Syrian refugees in Jordan currently face serious food shortages, a decrease in humanitarian aid and, above all, an absence of any livelihood opportunities. There have been increases in the number of children working or begging in the street; the rate of school drop-out; the number of girls being pushed into early marriages; families moving in together in order to pay less rent; and household debt.
Lack of access to employment and possible additional obstructive administrative procedures will make conditions unbearable for Syrians in Jordan. For example, the Jordanian government has announced that they want to register all Syrians. In order to do so, Syrians are being asked to take an HIV test at their own cost, provide a rental certificate and bring their documents to 100 police stations who will collect them. The government has announced that all refugees who have not completed this procedure will see their assistance cut by the end of October 2015. If implemented, such a measure will leave many refugees without any assistance.
The situation of Palestinian refugees from Syria is of serious concern due to their statelessness and denial of access to any public services and assistance with the exception of UNRWA. GUE/NGL MEPs were particularly alarmed by the deportation of 117 known cases by the Jordanian authorities to Syria.
MEP Martina Anderson commented on their findings: “People face hopeless choices. They can either choose to stay in Jordan, and then starve because there are no jobs and no food, or they can choose dying while crossing the Mediterranean, or dying in a war zone at home. Yet so far, Europe’s approach has been to keep them out, rather than keep them safe”.
“Not welcoming the most vulnerable refugee women, men and children in a direct and immediate way is a real crime. If they escape to Europe it is because they have no more hope of returning to Syria and have lost hope for any possible future in Jordan. Citizens should tell their governments this is enough and require them to open safe and legal asylum channels and stop hiding behind the EU. The hypocrisy of member states and the EU is unbearable”, added MEP Josu Juaristi.
“It is obvious that we need to step up our efforts to help Jordan provide a future for the big number of Syrian refugees in the country, by helping to make the education and health system, as well as the labour market, more inclusive. But we also know that Jordan, like Lebanon, is a small country that cannot take many more refugees in a sustainable way. If we want to avoid further destabilisation of the region and reduce the death toll of the war in Syria, we must proactively welcome many more people from Syria and also engage in the resettlement of some hundred thousand people, at least until Syria has become a safe and decent place to live in again,” concluded MEP Cornelia Ernst.
* Key facts about refugees in Jordan, September 2015:
- Among 1.4 million Syrians in Jordan, 630,000 are currently registered as refugees;
- The total population of Jordan is 6.5 million;
- 15% of refugees are in camps (80,000 refugees in Zaatari refugee camp and 20,000 in Azraq);
- In Zaatari refugee camp, 57% of refugees are children; 50.3% are females and 49,7% males;
- The Jordanian government granted only 4,000 work permits to Syrian refugees (estimates say that between 85,000 and 200,000 Syrian refugees are working in irregular employment);
- 52% of Palestinians from Syria have Jordanian nationality;
- Those without Jordanian nationality are not authorised to enter the country; some have entered irregularly while some others are detained in a centre near the border;
- Main challenges for refugees living in Jordan: access to education, health, social services and work permits;
- Main challenges for Jordan as a country related to the refugee crisis: water (Jordan is now the second poorest country in the world in terms of water supply), energy, waste management;
- Only 34% of the Jordanian government's plan to respond to the refugee crisis has funded for 2015;
- The UN World Food Programme’s budget has been cut by 50%;
- The EU has provided 4 billion euros so far related to the Syrian refugee crisis and 500 million euros to Jordan;
- The number of spontaneous returns to Syria are increasing and outnumber the number of arrivals in Jordan – 120 per day since August (previously only 60-80 per day).
- The border with Syria has been closed since March 2015, except one crossing point in the far-east where 25-40 people are allowed in per day and go through multiple security checks (an estimated 3,000 others wait at this border crossing in the desert hoping to be allowed in; 70% of them are women and children).
A preliminary report from the GUE/NGL delegation to Syria is available below and the full report will be available soon.
For more information about the delegation contact Amandine Bach: [email protected]
GUE/NGL Press Contact:
Nikki Sullings +32 22 83 27 60 / +32 483 03 55 75
European United Left / Nordic Green Left
European Parliamentary Group