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Watchdog: UNHCR Should Enhance Role in Syria
RI: Palestinian Refugees Remain Iraq's Most Vulnerable Displaced Population
03/17/2008 6:03 PM ET
A major refugee advocacy organization has called for increased international efforts to coordinate and fund relief work for Iraqi refugees in Syria.

According to Refugees International, displaced Iraqis in Syria face special vulnerability due to the difficulty of providing aid to the population living in a "non-camp" urban environment, as well as the "largely depleted" personal resources of the hundreds of thousands of refugees in the country.

While RI lauds some policies implemented by the UNHCR in Syria, the group, which participated in a fact-finding mission to Syria in February, also recommends that the UNHCR step up its coordination activities in the country in order to better deliver services to the vulnerable Iraqi population.

Moreover, RI calls for the international community to fully fund recent aid appeals for Iraqi refugees. A $261 million UNHCR appeal for 2008 aid programs in Syria and Jordan is unfunded beyond an $83 million US contribution, RI writes, which could threaten aid delivery in both countries. Meanwhile, a $126 World Food Program appeal has only met with $35 million in aid commitments.

Palestinian refugees in Iraq are in an especially vulnerable status, RI writes. In Iraq, the Palestinian population, displaced in 1948, receive little support or protection, and have been targeted by Iraqi armed groups. Meanwhile, Palestinians have been "systematically denied asylum" in third countries. Many thousands are stranded in underserved camps situated in no-man's lands on the border with Jordan and Syria, where even those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cancer are unable to obtain treatment. Palestinian refugees have been subjected to deportation from third countries, RI adds. Only Brazil and Chile have agreed to protect a small number of the refugees stranded on the Iraqi borders.

To read the full three-page PDF, click here Syria_031708all.pdf, or see Refugees International for more.


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