Turky opens its biggest camp for Syrian refugees in Suruç

„Turkey’s state-run Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) opened the country’s biggest-ever tent camp for refugees from Syria yesterday in Suruç, a town in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa that was flooded with Syrian Kurds from the town of Kobani besieged by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) last fall.

The camp will host 35,000 people, some 9,000 people more than another large camp in the provincial town of Akçakale. The sprawling facility is fitted with a school, hospital and 100 laundry and recreational areas. It also has its own water treatment facility that will supply water both to residents of the camp and agricultural lands surrounding the camp.“



Do you remember?

Not that long ago, more specifically in August 2014, the Yazidis living in Northern Iraq were targeted, attacked, killed, and enslaved by IS. Thousands of them were forced to flee their homes and seeked shelter in Turkey. The outcry of the international community was huge. The brutality of IS towards the Yazidis and their fate shocked the masses. Do you remember?

Good, because if you do – why are Yazidis left alone in their new homes, the camps set up by some municipalities in Southeast Turkey? Where is the solidarity of the international community? Where is the help and support?

Time went by and the focus of the Western media has found other hotspots – hence, it seems the focus of our decision makers ass well. We all now that the news of today are not interesting anymore tomorrow – and that is especially the case when we feel helpless. But, for many people the news of yesterday have turned into their daily realities.

I was able to visit some of the camps in Diyarbakir and Batman and talk with some Yazidi refugee families. It is a shame that besides of the Kurdish municipalities and some NGO nobody supports and helps them! They are left alone tryng to cope with the harsh winter temperatures, their trauma, and especially their uncertain future!

The outcry back then in summer 2014 was massive and for a couple of weeks the fate of the Yazidis was in the centre of the international interest, but this was six months ago. Do you remember?

Timeline of restrictions making it harder for Syrian refugees to cross their border

„All of Syria’s neighbours have tightened their restrictions on the entry of refugees in recent months as they have suffered under the strain of hosting hundreds of thousands of people. While rights groups call for open borders, governments argue they need more support to continue supporting such high numbers of refugees. In the meantime, fleeing Syrians have dwindling options.“:


New tactics of smuggling refugees on cargo ships from Turkey and abandoning them at sea endangering lives

source: ECRE (09.01.2015)

„On 31 December 2014, the Italian authorities rescued 736 Syrian refugees, including 60 children, who were travelling on the Moldovan-flagged cargo ship Blue Sky M. The ship had sailed from Turkey and was, according to media reports, abandoned by the crew and left on autopilot on a collision course with the Italian coast. A few days later, on 2 January 2015, the Ezadeen, a Sierra Leonean-flagged cargo ship, carrying 359 Syrian refugees and also abandoned by its crew, was adrift 25 miles off south-east Italy and was then towed to southern Italy by an Icelandic vessel part of the Frontex Triton mission. Italian authorities are investigating reports that the smugglers abandoned the ship after locking it on automatic pilot.

UNHCR, IOM and Frontex have expressed their concern about this new ‘ghost ship’ strategy. These cases show that smugglers are now using old, unsafe and quite large cargo ships which, according to survivors’ accounts, are then abandoned by their crews. The ships set sail from Mersin in Turkey, which according to Frontex, is a “departure point still connected by ferry to the Syrian port of Latakia, making it reachable for the tens of thousands of Syrians still fleeing the conflict in their country.” According to Frontex, the engines of the old ships are often unreliable and the danger of the journey is increased by the smugglers switching off the ship’s Automatic Identification System to make the boat electronically invisible to the search and rescue authorities in order to buy time for the crew to escape and avoid arrest.

According to Frontex, a place on such a freighter from Turkey costs at least three times the price of a ticket on the usual sea route from Libya. The survivors of the Blue Sky M told IOM staff that they paid between USD 4,000 and 6,000 to travel from Turkey to Italy. “Travelling this way not only circumvents the considerable danger of capsizing in a small boat in rough seas: it also avoids having to go to Libya. The departure point of choice for facilitator networks in 2014, this increasingly lawless North African nation appears to have become too dangerous an operating environment even for the criminal gangs. Libya’s neighbours, furthermore, have beefed up their border security to contain the spread of Islamic extremists, which has made it much harder for migrants trying to enter by land”, Frontex notes.
Vincent Cochetel, Director of UNHCR Europe Bureau, stated: „the use of larger cargo ships is a new trend, but it is part of an ongoing and worrying situation that can no longer be ignored by European governments. We need urgent European concerted action in the Mediterranean Sea, increasing efforts to rescue people at sea and stepping up efforts to provide legal alternatives to dangerous voyages. Without safer ways for refugees to find safety in Europe, we won’t be able to reduce the multiple risks and dangers posed by these movements at sea.”

According to Frontex, approximately 11,400 people have been rescued in 77 separate search and rescue operations since the launch of the Triton Operation, on 1 November 2014. The EU Border Agency has warned that Operation Triton, with two aircrafts, a helicopter, two open sea patrol vessels, and four coastal vessels at its disposal “cannot be expected to handle the migrant challenge alone”. According to Frontex, Triton operation has “a fleet appropriate to its mandate, which is to control the EU’s borders, not to police 2.5million square kilometres of the Mediterranean. Triton’s budget, at €2.9m a month, is one third of what Italy were spending on Operation Mare Nostrum. That said, saving lives is always a priority for Frontex.”

Latest UNHCR report – Syrians have overtaken Afghans as the largest refugee population aside from Palestinians

„Syrians have overtaken Afghans as the largest refugee population aside from Palestinians, fleeing to more than 100 countries to escape war in their homeland, the United Nations said on Jan. 7.

At more than 3 million as of mid-2014, Syrians accounted for nearly one in four of the 13 million refugees worldwide being assisted by the U.N. refugee agency, the highest figure since 1996, it said in a report. Some 5 million Palestinians refugees are cared for by a separate agency, UNRWA.

„As long as the international community continues to fail to find political solutions to existing conflicts and to prevent new ones from starting, we will continue to have to deal with the dramatic humanitarian consequences,“ U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said in a statement.

At least 200,000 people have died and half the Syrian population has been displaced since the conflict began in March 2011 with protests that spiralled into civil war.

Worldwide, an estimated 5.5 million people were forcibly uprooted during the first six months of last year, 1.4 million of them fleeing abroad, the UNHCR said.

The Middle East and North Africa has become the main region of origin of refugees, overtaking the Asia and Pacific region that held the top spot for more than a decade.

Afghan refugees, the biggest group for three decades, have fallen to second place, with 2.6 million hosted by Pakistan and Iran at mid-year, it said. Somalis ranked as the third largest refugee group at 1.1 million.

Syria’s neighbours — Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Turkey — continue to bear the brunt of the crisis.

„With 257 refugees per 1,000 inhabitants, Lebanon remains the country with the highest refugee density at mid-2014,“ UNHCR said, noting that Jordan ranked second.

Sweden, with 12 refugees per 1,000 inhabitants, is the only industrialised country among major hosts, ranking 10th, it said.

Syrians also formed the largest group of asylum-seekers worldwide during the first half of 2014, lodging 59,600 applications, it said. Germany and Sweden together received 40 percent of these claims, it added.

Iraqis fleeing conflict were the second largest group of asylum-seekers during the period, at 28,900, the report said.

Last year nearly 3,500 migrants perished while trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe, the UNHCR says.“

source: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/syrians-largest-refugee-group-after-palestinians-un.aspx?pageID=238&nID=76587&NewsCatID=352

the report can be found here: http://unhcr.org/54aa91d89.html