Helsinki Report Stand and Deliver digital - CARE

Helsinki Report Stand and Deliver digital

On 4 February 2016, the international community agreed on a ‘comprehensive new approach’ to address the protracted Syria crisis at the “Supporting Syria and the Region” Conference in London. Donors, and neighboring countries, which host the vast majority of those who have fed Syria, committed to significant financial pledges and policy changes to improve the lives of refugees and host communities. As the one-year mark of the conference approaches, 3 NGO platforms and 28 organizations have reviewed whether donors and host governments have fulfilled their commitments, and whether their actions have led to an improvement in the situation for refugees and host communities in the region.

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Introduction

Important steps have been taken to improve the provision of education and livelihoods in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Donors have performed well in terms of aid disbursed and committed for the current financial year, and some host governments have made significant policy changes. Much more remains unaccomplished, however. Without technical assistance and further efforts to implement the wide-reaching policy framework agreed in London, there is a risk that the funding disbursed will fail to have a measurable and sustainable impact on people’s lives. Importantly, a continued lack of legal status and documentation means many refugees cannot access work and education. Moreover, the conflict in Syria continues unabated and without a tangible increase in international support for Syria’s neighbours, including by sharing the responsibility for hosting refugees more equitably.

Almost 5 million refugees from Syria, including an entire generation of children, currently face an uncertain future. If the international community fails to remain engaged and share responsibility for refugees, the consequences could be disastrous for refugee families and countries in the region.

Fully implementing the ‘new approach’ of the London Conference will require sustained political will, as well as sufficient funding and technical capacity. Neighbouring countries and donors must urgently reaffirm, consolidate and build on the commitments made at the Conference, and place the rights of refugees and the communities that host them at the forefront of the international agenda.

Key recommendations

Although the political and socio-economic situation in the neighbouring countries is varied, refugees face similar challenges in the pursuit of leading a dignified life. The international community and neighbouring countries must support educational and economic opportunities for refugees and protect their rights in this regard. A third area, that of refugee protection and the right to legal stay, underpins these two aspects. Addressing these three areas jointly is central to following through on the new approach outlined at the London Conference.

In addition, we urge the international community to ensure that the generous commitments made at the London Conference mark a new era of collaboration, solidarity and responsibility sharing to respond to the needs of Syrian refugees, internally displaced and host communities.

One year on from the “Syria and the Region” Conference, we therefore recommend:

1. Governments take action to ensure refugees from Syria have the right to legal stay, education and to inclusive access to decent work and economic opportunities

I. Host countries, with the support of donors, should introduce necessary far-reaching domestic policy changes that guarantee the right to legal stay, education and livelihoods to refugees, to ensure the realisation of the commitments made in London.

II. All countries must strengthen refugees’ access to protection by setting up clear, accessible and affordable procedures to obtain and maintain valid documentation, residency and registration. Legal protection is a prerequisite to improving access to livelihoods, education and other basic services. These legal protections should be equally extended to Palestine Refugees from Syria.

III. All countries must remove barriers preventing adult refugees from accessing decent work opportunities by addressing exploitation in the workplace, removing restrictions on legal stay and freedom of movement, scale-up efforts to support the development of micro, small and medium sized Syrian-owned enterprises, and expanding initiatives to create jobs for both refugees and host communities.

IV. Donors and host countries should avoid creating a lost generation by ensuring that every last girl and boy benefits from quality education by continuing to open new places in public schools, placing more emphasis on ensuring retention and learning outcomes, addressing the worst forms of child labour, and providing sufficient opportunities for certified non-formal education with civil society support.

2. Governments share responsibility

I. Donors should follow through on multi-year aid funding at the same level as 2016 and as foreseen in the commitments made at London.

II. Donors must continue to extend and expand bilateral and multilateral support to Syria’s neighbouring countries to encourage necessary policy changes are introduced.

III. Wealthy countries must increase resettlement to at least 10 percent of the refugee population from Syria by the end of 2017, in addition to scaling up safe and regular routes through other forms of admission, including family reunification, scholarships and labour-based schemes.

3. Governments respect the rights of those seeking asylum

I. All countries must allow entry to asylum seekers feeing violence and seeking international protection, and ensure that full individual case assessments are afforded for any and all cases, as a minimum where there is risk of deportation. This includes countries neighbouring Syria, in Europe and beyond.

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