UN refugee head calls on OSCE to share the burden of Syria conflict

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Guterres calls on OSCE to provide mass international support for Syria

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Guterres calls on OSCE to provide mass international support for Syria

VIENNA - United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Antonio Guterres on Thursday called on the participating members of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to provide international support for Syria.

Speaking at the OSCE Permanent Council, Guterres said "The Syrian conflict has caused one of the worst humanitarian crises in decades. One that directly impacts the OSCE, specifically the participating member states in the region."

He stressed that the conflict in Syria is a major threat to global security. “Within a few years, Syria has gone from being the world’s second largest refugee host to becoming its fastest refugee-producing country,” he said.

He said that the UNHCR has registered 2.5 million Syrians as refugees in the region, though the real number may reach 4 million by the end of 2014. He emphasized that Syria’s neighbors Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq have received a steady stream of refugees.

“Turkey - the second-biggest refugee-hosting country in the region and a member of the OSCE - has already spent over US$2.5 billion from its own budget to assist Syrian refugees. Although the country’s refugee capacity is of a different order, one must not forget that Turkey alone has received ten times as many Syrian refugees as the entire European Union,” Guterres has said.

He also said that the Syria crisis has profound implications on regional stability and global security.

“The generosity of Syria’s neighbors needs to be matched by massive international support, in a true spirit of effective burden-sharing. This is essential to preserving the space for people fleeing this brutal conflict and also a crucial contributor to maintaining regional stability. The region needs much more financial assistance than it is currently receiving to cope with an influx that would severely strain the capacities of even the world’s most developed countries,” Guterres said.

Guterres called on the OSCE to keep their borders open for Syrians who are forced to flee and seek protection abroad.

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