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29 MAR 2016

Only tiny fraction of Syrian refugees resettled, rich countries urged to step up efforts

Rich countries have resettled only 1.39 per cent of the nearly five million Syrian refugees, a fraction of the 10 per cent of people who need to be urgently offered a safe haven. As wealthy states meet in Geneva on 30 March to discuss the Syria refugee crisis, Oxfam urges them to redouble their efforts and offer their ‘fair share’ of support to hundreds of thousands of refugees.

Collectively, rich nations have so far offered places to 129,966 people, only 27 percent of the minimum they should. And of those, only 67,000 have actually made it to their final destination.

Oxfam’s new analysis released today shows that only three countries – Canada, Germany, Norway – have made resettlement pledges exceeding their ‘fair share’, which is calculated according to the size of their economies, while five others – Australia, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand – have pledged more than half of it.

The other 20 countries included in the analysis need to offer safe and legal routes to more Syrians fleeing the conflict, and increase their share of resettlement to fairer levels. For example, France has only pledged to take four per cent of its fair share, the Netherlands and the United States seven per cent each, Denmark 15 per cent and the United Kingdom 22 per cent.

Six years into this terrible crisis, more than 4.8 million Syrian people are now refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and elsewhere in the region. The most vulnerable of them – women, children, the elderly – can’t go back, but don’t have the resources or support to live properly where they are. In Lebanon, one in five inhabitants is a Syrian refugee. In Jordan, they constitute 10 per cent of the population, and the fourth largest ‘city’ is a refugee camp.

While peace talks and a partial ceasefire have given Syrians a glimmer of hope, it will take years before they can go back home and rebuild their lives. Rich countries have reacted to this crisis by providing aid funds, and offering resettlement to refugees, but have failed to match the levels needed. Moreover, some attempts to use resettlement as a bargaining chip in political deals, like the recent EU-Turkey deal, are deeply troubling and pose political, ethical and probably legal questions. Resettlement should be about providing a home to vulnerable refugees, not a method for managing migration or justifying harsh asylum policies.

Oxfam calls for the resettlement or other forms of humanitarian admission in rich countries of 10 per cent of all registered refugees by the end of 2016, the equivalent of around 480,000 people.


Notes to editors

  • The fair share analysis for is available here.
  • 67,108 Syrian refugees have been resettled since 2013 according to information drawn from publicly available sources including the UNHCR and checked with government sources where possible
  • Previous fair shares are available here for 2014 and here for 2015.