Political settlement needed to address the crisis in Syria

Hesham Youssef sat down with Devex to discuss the refugee crisis and the rising accountability in the Middle East and Arab region.

Political settlement between countries is crucial to address the crisis in Syria that has spurred a growing number of refugees, according to Hesham Youssef, assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, in an exclusive interview at the Riksdag, the seat of Sweden’s parliament.

With the Middle East and wider Arab region still bearing the brunt of the increased flow of refugees, and Europe slow to take action to accommodate thousands of new arrivals, Youssef said it was time for countries and international organizations to get their acts together. Otherwise, he warned, the situation will only get worse.

“If we don't step up our efforts in those countries, this wave of additional refugees will continue to become more and more difficult,” he said. “A few years back, it was the developed countries that [were] asking for equitable burden sharing, now it's the other way around.”

The OIC official added that countries such as Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan — hosting millions of refugees — are beginning to feel the strain, with the strain on populations and the economy becoming unmanageable.

“They feel that they can break down as a result of this burden and we don't want this to happen, [or] the problem will be much more difficult to resolve,” said Youssef.

Watch the above clip to learn more about Youssef's insights on the refugee crisis and the rising accountability in the Middle East and Arab region.

Democracy Matters is a global conversation hosted by Devex, in partnership with International IDEA, to discuss accountability as a central element of deepening democracy. Visit the campaign site and join the conversation using #DemocracyMatters.

About the author

  • Lean 2

    Lean Alfred Santos

    Lean Alfred Santos is a former Devex development reporter focusing on the development community in Asia-Pacific, including major players such as the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. He previously covered Philippine and international business and economic news, sports and politics.

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