Syria remains a deadly and hostile country while its civil war is underway. This means civilians continue to require protection and refugees will need assistance in terms of resettlement and safe passage to third countries.
From its pre-conflict population of 20.5 million, 6.15 million people are internally displaced and 13.5 million people need humanitarian assistance.
By the end of October 2017 there were 5.31 million Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries.
Conditions for refugees remain precarious and there are a number of risks for those who reside in camp settings, including:
Lack of access to psychological support.
Protection concerns for unaccompanied minors.
Sexual and gender-based violence.
Poor health and bad hygiene.
Lack of protection to harsh weather conditions.
Limited financial resources.
While funding from donors to help humanitarian organisations is still vital and allows for much needed protection and assistance mechanisms to be put in place, there can be no alternative to asylum and resettlement to allow refugees to continue their lives and enjoy their full entitlement to rights in as safe an environment as possible.
In 2015, the EU asked 27 countries to take 160,000 refugees but by September 2017 only 29,162 had been taken in. The UK, who was not part of this scheme eventually agreed to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020 through its own national Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Programme (VPRP).
However, many refugees are still making dangerous journeys from their country of origin, which exacerbates their suffering.
That’s why more safe and legal pathways are needed to ensure protection of Syrian refugees.
The UK position
The UK government settled on accepting 20,000 Syrian refugees. There has been opinion that the UK should accept more. The UK government has made clear though that it prefers to provide humanitarian funding to support those within the country believing that offering resettlement would encourage people to make the dangerous journey to the UK.
While aid can help attend to urgent needs there are many hard to reach areas in Syria, including those that are besieged. That means that humanitarian convoys can be denied entry. And so-called safe zones cannot truly protect the civilian population who have suffered disproportionately from the conflict. In addition Syrians are at risk of sexual violence, enforced disappearances and forced conscription as well as the recruitment of child soldiers. Evidence of torture and extra-judicial executions have also been uncovered.