HH Sheikha Jawaher calls for global community to lessen the burden of 2 million Syrian refugees’ adopted countries at UNHCR’s Geneva session

Big Heart Campaign patron calls for urgent support of Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey at high-level “Burden-Sharing” talks

Geneva, Switzerland, XOctober 2013: In a high-level session withMiddle Eastern delegates on the sidelines of the 64th session of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Programin Geneva, Switzerland, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qassimi, UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children, has made an impassioned plea for the global community to ease the burden of Syria’s neighbors, who are shouldering the economic and social repercussions of an influx of two million Syrian refugees – one million of whom are vulnerable children.

Her Highness – who is also the patron of the Big Heart Campaign for Syrian Refugees -was expressing her views and mobilizing urgent action atspecial discussions on“Solidarity and Burden-Sharing”.The talks are aimed at raising emergency support for countries offering sanctuary to the refugees. In a sign of the escalating crisis, the host countries are no longer restricted to Syria’s immediate neighbors, but now extend to North African countries like Libya and Egypt, which are themselves experiencing political turmoil.

HH Sheikha Jawaher reiterated: “Today we stand here not as politicians, not as religious leaders, but simply as fellow human beings who refuse to look the other way during one of the biggest humanitarian catastrophes in human history. I notice media headlines calling this a “Syrian crisis”, but the truth is that it has spilled over and escalated into a Lebanese crisis, a Jordanian crisis, a Turkish crisis – in short, it is no longer just an Arab crisis but a crisis for humanity.”

Injecting greater urgency into Her Highness’s sentiments is the fact that a cloud of uncertainty still hangs over Syria due to the chemical weapons standoff, with the US and some of its NATO allies expressing their willingness to oversee the destruction of the chemical weapons, while simultaneously keeping the threat of military air strikes on the table should the Syrian regime fail to comply.

With the crisis now well into its third year and with no resolution even remotely visible on the horizon, the consensus among the UNHCR delegates is that it has now crossed the line from being one of the worst humanitarian crises in living memory to posing a massive threat to the peace and security of the Middle East and beyond. The UNHCR summit resolved to intensify worldwide efforts to raise awareness and funds for the host countries, while safeguarding freedom of movement to protect those fleeing the conflict, in accordance with international refugee law. Meanwhile the delegates vowed to step up the delivery of emergency aid and link it to development programs to ensure sustainability, while pursuing opportunities for family reunification.

HH Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qassimi summed up the agreed resolutions by saying: “There are about 200 countries in the world, yetit is tragic that only a handful of countries are shouldering the entire burden of Syria’s refugees. These countries already had their own problems, but have shown remarkable generosity to share the few resources they have with refugees. Now it is time to show that the phrase ‘global community’ is not just empty talk. Because in a community, when someone’s house is on fire and you choose to ignore their pleas for help, that fire could rapidly spread until your own house – and the entire community – is ablaze.”

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