Latest DPI Syria Update. This bulletin covers the Secretary-General’s call for increased assistance to Syrian refugees in Lebanon, UNHCR’s concerns over a proposal by Spain to legalise automatic returns of refugees from two enclaves in North Africa, as well as UNRWA’s appeal for humanitarian access to Yarmouk’s Palestinian refugee camp.
A Weekly Update from the UN Department of Public Information No. 66/ 29 October 2014
Secretary-General calls for additional support for Syrian refugees in Lebanon
In remarks delivered on his behalf by UN Special Coordinator Derek Plumbly at a meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon on 28 October, the Secretary-General urged increased assistance for Syrian refugees and their communities in Lebanon. While noting the concerns expressed by the Lebanese authorities about the scale of the Syrian refugee presence, he stressed the continuing importance of close cooperation between the Government and the UN refugee agency in managing the refugee response effectively and in line with international humanitarian standards and human rights.
During the meeting held in Berlin, participants recognized with grave concern the tremendous burden Lebanon continues to bear in hosting nearly 1.2 million Syrian refugees, equivalent to a 30 per cent increase in Lebanon’s population. They recalled that mobilizing assistance to refugees and communities affected by the crisis had been among the core objectives of the Support Group, and that this requires a coordinated humanitarian and development response and greater burden-sharing.
UNHCR concerned over attempt to legalize automatic returns from Spanish enclaves
During a media briefing in Geneva on 28 October, a UNHCR spokesperson said the UN refugee agency is concerned over a proposal by Spain to legalize automatic returns of people trying to cross border fences into its enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa. “Under this initiative, a person trying to access these cities without the required documentation would be automatically rejected and would not be entitled to the legal guarantees foreseen in national and European Union law”, he said.
Since 2013, there has been an increase in the number of people arriving irregularly through this route. So far this year, over 5,000 people have arrived, including 2,000 people fleeing the conflict in Syria (of whom 70% are women and children). According to UNHCR, the proposed amendment to current law introduces the concept of “rejection at the border” and would deny any opportunity for those fleeing persecution and conflict to request asylum. In this context, UNHCR stressed the importance of permitting access to territory to seek international protection.
UNRWA urges unhindered access to Yarmouk’s Palestinian refugee camp
The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said on 28 October that the agency had not been cleared to distribute humanitarian aid to thousands of Palestinians trapped in Yarmouk. In a statement issued on the same day, UNRWA said that since July 2014, there has been a significant decline in the quantity of food and other essential items that the agency has been able to deliver. “UNRWA is vigorously taking this up with authorities concerned and urging a restoration of the levels of daily authorization, facilitation and support that made it possible for UNRWA to reach over 1,000 civilian families inside Yarmouk earlier this year”, the agency added.
UN Twitter account:
@WFP provides food for Syrians fleeing into Turkey, Iraq despite funding shortfalls http://j.mp/1rmWN8M
– 26 Oct 2014
UN Radio in Arabic:
Secretary-General stresses the importance of cooperation between Lebanese government and UNHCR to manage the crisis of Syrian refugees
WFP notes the continuous deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Syria
ICRC delivers food to the eastern part of Aleppo
Campaign to immunize 25 million children in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey against polio
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