Regions / Middle East

2014: The Year 10 Million Syrians Became an Insignificant Statistic; Salwa Amor

By ilgar Gurbanov

Sep 30, 2015 - 2:47 PM

In mid-2014, the UN declared that the influx of Syrian refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs), and the ensuing human trafficking catastrophe, had led to the worst humanitarian refugee crisis since WWII. How does the current Syrian refugee crisis fit into the historical context of this previous tragedy, and has the international community and the world at large really learnt anything from past experience? This is the question we pose, and this is the answer we give: a comparison between Europe’s response to the post-WWII refugee crisis and the current, second worst crisis of its kind, reveals that Europe has advanced in many ways. However, for victims of displacement around the world, Europe has yet to move on from the WWII mentality, which was characterized by indifference. Read more...

Life in a Tent… The Unending Plight of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon; Samar el Kadi

By ilgar Gurbanov

Sep 30, 2015 - 2:46 PM

When Syrians fled their war-torn country for the relative safety of neighboring Lebanon, they little imagined that almost four years on, they would still be there. As the humanitarian assistance which they have been relying on runs out and the tolerance of their hosts wears thin, their living conditions have dramatically deteriorated. What is it like for the Syrian refugees who continue to spend years of their lives in poorly equipped tents in miserable conditions? Samar el Kadi reports from the Bekaa valley in eastern Lebanon. Read more...

Stranded and Trapped: The Growing Syrian Refugee Crisis in Turkey and the Disaster of International Inaction; Constanze Letsch

By ilgar Gurbanov

Sep 30, 2015 - 2:35 PM

This article discusses the Syrian refugee crisis triggered by the outbreak of conflict in Syria in March 2011, and its impact on neighbouring Turkey. Over 1.6 million Syrians are currently residing within Turkish borders, and Turkey, like other countries in the region, is beginning to reach the limits of its capacity. The article argues that Turkey’s asylum policies as well as the dismal international response to the crisis are pushing increasing numbers of Syrians to risk their lives, fleeing the country via dangerous and ever diversifying human trafficking routes. Evidence has shown that the European response of tightening border controls and trying to deter migrants from reaching its shores by cancelling of maritime rescue operations is failing. This approach only pushes traffickers to use riskier methods, likely to result in more deaths of those trying to reach the safety of a third country. The international community urgently needs to rise to its responsibilities towards the Syrians fleeing violence in their country, both in order to prevent the humanitarian crisis from further spiraling out of control, and to alleviate the pressure on Turkey and other countries in the region. Read more...

A Life On the Edge: Syrian IDPs; Zümrüt Sönmez

By ilgar Gurbanov

Sep 30, 2015 - 2:32 PM

This article examines the challenges faced by internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Syria, based on facts and personal observations, and provides recommendations for the international community. IDPs are one of the most vulnerable groups of people in the current global context. Escaping from armed conflicts, generalized violence or human rights violations, IDPs leave their demolished houses or besieged towns, only to find themselves trapped within the borders of their home countries, unlike refugees who manage to cross an international border in order to take shelter in another country. Some Syrian IDPs have eventually settled in makeshift camps in the border areas after fleeing civil war. There are reportedly hundreds of thousands people living alongside the Turkish-Syrian border under very harsh conditions. Underlying these conditions and their continuing deterioration, this article attempts to demonstrate the importance of the role of international NGOs in improving the situation for IDPs. Read more...

Forced Humanitarianism: Turkey’s Syrian Policy and the Refugee Issue; Ariel González Levaggi

By ilgar Gurbanov

Sep 30, 2015 - 2:29 PM

The Middle East faces complex and overlapping turbulences. The Civil War in Syria and the emergence of Islamic State have radically changed the geo-strategic environment. In recent years, Turkish foreign policy has faced two major tests in relation to this new situation: a large wave of Syrian refugees and the threat of Islamic State in southeast border areas. Since the start of the Syrian Civil War, Turkey has to deal with an increasing volume of refugees, while the emergence of the Islamic State increased the number of Syrian and Iraqi citizens seeking protection in Turkish territories, in addition to the deterioration of the regional security environment. Ankara has tried to navigate the troubled waters of the Syrian crisis via a two-pronged approach, combining national security concerns with democratic internationalism. One of the highlights of Turkish Internationalism has been growing humanitarian assistance for Syrian refugees, which brings Turkey to a prominent position in terms of humanitarian aid delivery. In this paper, I will discuss the concept of “forced humanitarianism” to explain the intersection with the Syrian Crisis in Turkish foreign policy. Read more...
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