UNCHR; International Protection Considerations with Regard to People Fleeing the Syrian Arab Republic Update IV

This report is made by the UNCHR and gives an update on the international protection of people fleeing the Syrian conflict. It starts by giving an overview of the conflict situation, and the major amounts of civilian casualties. The brutality of the conflict leads to unprecedented numbers of forced migration, both internally and to foreign states. As the conditions in refugee camps in the region are often terrible, many Syrian decided to flee to Europe.

The human rights standards in Syria continues to deteriorate. Crimes against humanity, war crimes and gross human rights violations are being committed by all parties.

A particular feature of the conflict is that different parties to the conflict often impute a political opinion on larger groups – like villages, families – which makes these large groups a target without individually being singled out. Especially women children, Palestinian refugees and people of diverse sexual preferences and gender identities are in a vulnerable position.  

Many refugees that were in Syria before the conflict arose in 2011, for instance from Iraq, felt compelled to return home. Most asylum seekers have very limited resources and have failed to receive education for years.

After 5 years of conflict, the humanitarian situation in Syria is deteriorating rapidly. Access to food, water and sanitation, housing, health care, and education is severely affected by the cumulative effects of armed conflict and the related destruction of infrastructure. Aid organisations have trouble reaching people in need.

UNHCR characterizes the flight of civilians from Syria as a refugee movement. Syrians, and Palestinian refugees who had their former habitual residence in Syria, require international protection until such time as the security and human rights situation in Syria improves significantly and conditions for voluntary return in safety and dignity are met.

The countries in the region have been very generous, but still thousands of Syrians have gone to Europe. On the dangerous sea route, many people have gone missing. The UNCHR urges to accept all refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict. Among the people applying for asylum, might be individuals who have taken part in hostilities. These people should be treated in compliance with international standards as well. In order to detect this, all asylum applications should be done on an individual basis. The UNCHR has made a list of risks profiles, consisting of people that actively support one of the parties to the conflict and the vulnerable groups.

Currently, the ‘burden’ of the Syrian crises is predominantly put on the shoulders of the region. UNHCR is encouraged by standing offers representing different forms of solidarity, but urges these States to do more, and other States to join this effort, in the face of a crisis of unprecedented dimensions in an increasingly volatile regional environment.