The UNHCR, the main UN Refugee Agency, stated an open warning about the use of refugees and their difficulties as a political subject or a political tool. Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, discussed the matter after a landmark four-day visit to Syria where he witnessed first-hand the massive destruction caused by nearly six years of conflict.
“Grandi urges developed countries to show generosity to those fleeing conflict or risk undermining principle of solidarity…[he]met displaced people in Aleppo and witnessed the destruction.”
He met with numerous children in Jibreen, which has a population of 5,000 people. People are living in shelters within warehouses in Jibreen. According to Grandi, the politicisation of the plight of refugees is a risk: “the principle of international solidarity with those fleeing war and persecution…Refugees urged rich countries to show generosity to refugees, rather than regarding them as a threat.”
Grandi noted that the refugees are facing considerable danger: “we have serious concerns, and these are not new concerns, we’ve had them for some time, that the refugee issue in the industrialised world – in Europe, the US, Australia – is very politicised. It shouldn’t be,” Grandi said.
He is the first senior official to visit Syria since Turkey and Russia brokered a nationwide ceasefire. The refugees come from many places, and they need international solidarity, Grandi said. However, actions by the US has weakened that solidarity.
The UNHCR has estimated on the number of refugees at 20,000. They are living in an uncertain environment. The US has a 120-day suspension. “Grandi expressed his hope that the US would resume resettlements following its internal review of the programme,” the UNHCR said.
He made notes to the difficulties of many people to reconstruct their livelihoods in the “ruins of east Aleppo and the old city of Homs.” The UNHCR is in negotiations with the Syrian government for the provision of support to those in need, even in the “hard-to-reach areas.”
“People need to return eventually to Syria, and we all agree that that’s the ideal solution. But we need to be patient,” he said. “More progress needs to be made politically, then economically and infrastructure-wise in order for conditions to be there to have large returns.”