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Syria's neighbours request help with refugee influx at Berlin conference

Neighbours of civil war-ridden Syria have requested more support from the international community to deal with refugees

Ghada Atef, Wednesday 29 Oct 2014
Refugees
Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, UN Refugees Commissioner Antonio Guterres and German Development Minister Gerd Mueller talk after the conference about the current situation for Syrian refugees in neighboring countries in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday Oct. 28, 2014 (Photo: AP)
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Berlin will donate 500 million euros to help Syrian refugees, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said at the International Conference on the Syrian Refugees Crisis on Tuesday. 

The conference in Berlin was attended by representatives from 40 countries, including from Germany, Italy, France, the Arab League and the UN High Commissioner, pan-Arab daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported.

Steinmeier said the money would help supply more humanitarian aid, in addition to development cooperation for Syrians over the next three years.  

The United Nations urged the conference to increase international financial aid to Syria's neighbours. Lebanon alone is dealing with almost 1.1 million Syrian refugees.

At the opening ceremony, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said: "The countries hosting Syrian refugees are in a dire need of big financial support, which they deserve."

He described the Syrian situation as "the most dramatic humanitarian crisis the world has faced in a very long time," AFP reported.

Meanwhile, most Arab envoys called for increased financial support from the international community and for the flow of Syrians into their countries to be reduced.

Lebanon's Prime Minister Tammam Salam said: “The massive influx of Syrians into poor communities totally unprepared to cope with such a sudden burden has had a destabilising effect."

He called on the international community to send more financial aid to Lebanon to cope with more refugees.

Lebanese Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas told Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that Lebanon had held a meeting earlier on Tuesday with the International Support Group for Lebanon, and the group had promised to give Lebanon $6 million in financial support.

Derbas added that the Lebanese government had agreed to stop the flow of refugees.  

Jordanian Foreign Minister Naser Goda said the flow of refugees into his country had led to social disruption. 1.5 million Syrian refugees registered in Jordan has put a strain on health, education and social services, he added. "Jordan and other neighbouring countries cannot handle any more refugees."

Turkey's Deputy Foreign Minister Naci Koru said hosting Syrian refugees had cost his country $4 billion.  Only $250 million has been donated by the international community, he said.   

German Development Minister Gerd Muller said the international community should intensify efforts to help Syrian and Iraqi refugees.

The German foreign ministry has announced the establishment of a new scholarship programme for 100 Syrian refugees to study in Germany in 2015, Deutsche Welle reported.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 3.2 million Syrians have fled the war to neighbouring countries.

 

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