SHARJAH: “We need to give children hope and education in order not to lose a generation, and their parents need to work to live a dignified life,” said a senior official of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), calling for provision of jobs to refugees and education to kids.
“All countries are invited to share the burden and responsibility of the Syrian situation because this is beyond the capacity of one country or one organisation,” said the UNHCR Public Information and Communications Officer, Mohammed Abu Asaker.
He was engaged in an exclusive talk with The Gulf Today during the three-day 13th edition of Dubai International Humanitarian and Development Conference and Exhibition (DIHAD) held from March 21-23 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
He said the refugees need to be given authorised permits to work.
“Turkey allows them to work.
“There are some in Jordan and Lebanon, but we want to see more and wherever the refugees are.”
He said the London Conference hosted last January “focused on two important things: education for kids and working opportunities. We would like to see a translation of the commitment of donors.
“We understand the economic pressure and unemployment rates so many countries are facing.
“This is why we need the financial support from the international community.
“Otherwise, everybody can lose because these are human beings.
“Secondly, if you don’t give hope to a young man, what would you expect from him? These will be an easy target for terrorist groups and extremism.”
Abu Asaker said the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is “now the largest producer and host of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) globally.
“More than a third of the world’s refugees are hosted in the MENA region.
“It is sad that more refugees keep coming up – an unprecedented figure since the Second World War.”
Globally, more than 60 million persons are either refugees, IDPs, stateless or homeless.
He said Syria has 6.6 million IDPs – with 1.5m in besieged, unreachable areas, and about 5 million (Syrian refugees) are registered in the neighbouring countries. “Inside Iraq, there are more than 3.3 million (Iraqi) IDPs.
“This is the century’s most humanitarian crisis of the century. “The neighbouring countries alone and the UNHCR cannot handle the situation.
“We need solidarity from all the countries of the world to absorb the pressure of this situation.
“This entails hosting refugees in the neighbouring countries.”
Abu Asaker decried the shortage of funds, saying that of the agency’s appeal last year, only 53 per cent was received.
“This is why people take risky routes to Europe for lack of hope: no education, no money. “Sadly, Europe is closing its doors to them.
“This is after they would have sold whatever belongings they had left to pay for their passage to pirates.”
He said within one and a half years, more than 7,700 people have lost their lives or went missing in the Mediterranean.