Issues Facing the Refugee Crisis in Syria

refugee crisis syriaAccording to the Chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, it is time that the international community stopped neglecting their humanitarian duty, put their political ideologies to the side to protect Syrians from violence.

“The international community cannot pretend to be blind to the cycle it has allowed to prevail for so many years”, said Pinheiro.

In order to accommodate this process, the ‘de Mistura plan’, named after Steffen de Mistura, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, was announced and is a major step in tackling systemic issues across Syria. This plan involves ‘four thematic working groups’ to tackle separate issues such as improving Syria’s political and legal systems and the military, security and counterterrorism operations of that country as well as societal issues including the continuity of public services.

This plan requires support and cooperation from Russia and the United States. There appears to be movement in this regard as ‘Russia and the United States have agreed to discuss mechanisms for ‘de-confliction’ in Syria’. Pinheiro was concerned that states affirming their support for a particular political movement would neglect their humanitarian duty. Political idealism and total peace may turn out to be mutually exclusive terms.

This Syrian crisis, Pinheiro explains, is pandemic across the Middle East and the current refugee crisis hitting European shores was the turning point the world needed to do something about. “The profound human suffering, long seen in the hospitals and camps of Syria’s neighbours, is etched on the haggard faces of refugees huddled in European train stations and camping behind razor wire at Schengen borders”, Pinheiro said.

Earlier this month Pinheiro said, ‘Current trends suggest that the Syrian conflict – and the killing and destruction it wreaks – will carry on for the foreseeable future’. This conflict covers all aspects of Syrian life and involves the Government, Government backed agencies and terrorist organisations trying to gain control over the region. It is a conflict that will be immensely difficult to stop and requires international cooperation to help resolve it. This conflict hit the world stage when the refugee crisis reached Europe, demanding a response. The real tragedy is that this lifestyle of anticipating conflict has become the norm for many Syrian civilians.

On the one hand, it is good that the world is finally taking notice of the situation and the outpouring of humanity and compassion shows that this is an issue that people deeply care about and are genuinely concerned; it’s now a matter for the international agencies to do what is morally right, not politically advantageous.

There is still substantial work to be done in resolving the systemic issues in Syria. As noted in the Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, only released in August 2015, ‘the Syrian conflict has continued to intensify. Civilians, Syrians of all backgrounds, have been the subject of crimes against humanity and war crimes, as well as other serious violations of international humanitarian law and gross violations of their human rights’.