CARE Calls on the EU to Turn Meetings Into Actions

Refugee crisis needs increased and prolonged response both in Europe and in Syria’s neighboring countries. Severe funding shortfalls for humanitarian assistance in the region contribute to Syrians leaving for Europe.

Brussels/Amman (September 11, 2015) - Ahead of Monday’s Extraordinary Council meeting of European Interior Ministers, CARE International calls on the European Union to provide a safe haven for asylum seekers while stepping up its support for humanitarian aid in the Syria region.

“It is high time to turn meetings into action”, says Wolfgang Jamann, Secretary General and CEO of CARE International. “Europe needs to ensure a safe and predictable route for asylum seekers, so that the most vulnerable people, including women and children, are able to seek the protection and basic services unavailable to them elsewhere. We have the means to support many more, and we need to step up to the fundamental ideals that European Union was built on: respect for human rights, freedom and solidarity. We urge governments not to simply divert resources already allocated for humanitarian aid in the Middle East to Europe, as this would have even more detrimental effects for Syrian refugees.”

CARE underlines that the devastating funding shortfall for humanitarian aid in Syria’s neighboring countries is one of the reasons why Syrian refugees are now coming to Europe in greater numbers. The current UN appeal for Syria is only 37 percent funded. CARE has only 49 percent of its projected funding needs secured for the next two years. Already in February, a CARE assessment among Syrian refugees in Jordan found that more than half of refugees were worried about being able to feed their family and one in three families could not access health services when they needed them.

“In August, when people saw the monthly cash rations from the World Food Program being cut by half due to funding shortfalls, they told us this was one reason why they are considering to leave to Europe now”, explains Wouter Schaap, CARE’s country director in Jordan. “Imagine having lived in exile away from your home for five years. If you can find a job, it is illegal and you risk exploitation and arrest. You lose hope. And then imagine being told that you will get only 13.5 dollars per month to buy food when last month you had 27 dollars. Wouldn’t you also consider getting on a boat?” 

CARE welcomes European Commission President Juncker’s comments in his State of the Union speech last Wednesday when he stressed the need to put numbers into perspective. The refugee influx to Europe still represents just 0.11 percent of the total European population. In Lebanon, Syrian refugees are now 25 percent of the population. CARE also stresses the need to plan in time for the coming winter months – both in Europe and the Syria region. “Winter in the Middle East might not be as cold as in Europe, but there have been severe snow storms over the last years and people are barely protected from the cold in often flimsy and unheated shelters”, reports Schaap.

Media contacts

Mary Kate MacIsaac, Regional Syria Response Communications Coordinator (Amman): [email protected] +962 79 711 7414

Anders Nordstoga, CARE International Media and Communications Coordinator (Oslo)[email protected] +47 908 42 458