How to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis?

Syria’s neighboring countries are seeking alternative solutions to the continued influx of refugees from the conflict-torn state.

Turkey, in particular, has stressed that the international community should share its “burden.” This appeal for international support was echoed by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, which noted a dramatic increase in the number of refugees arriving in Turkey. UNCHR spokeswoman Sybella Wilkes said this number could go “potentially up to 200,000.”

Turkey plans to build up to six additional camps to help accommodate these refugees. The camps will increase the capacity of existing settlements to 150,000 people, UNHCR chief spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said. The agency, she added, will provide technical support and aid to these new camps.

The opening of the additional camps hints at Turkey’s willingness to accommodate more refugees than the 100,000 it has said it could host. But despite this, Turkey is seeking internationally backed measures to help the country bear the influx of refugees. Among its proposal is the creation of a safe zone within Syria.

Turkey first floated the idea of so-called safe havens last week. It is expected to press the issue at a U.N. Security Council ministerial meeting this Thursday (Aug. 30). There are, however, doubts that the proposal would push through. The establishment of such camps would require military protection and most Western countries are hesitant to send troops.

“The Turks are quite comfortable with the idea of NATO supporting a safe haven or humanitarian corridor,” Soner Cagaptay, a Turkey expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy told the Christian Science Monitor. “What they want to see is the participation of some international body to give whatever action is taken international legitimacy.”

Aside from Turkey, large numbers of Syrian refugees are hosted by Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. UNCHR has reported a significant increase in the number of people arriving in these three countries given the recent upsurge of violence in Syria.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.