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‘Total collapse of solidarity for Syria’s growing number of refugees’

Humanitarian groups say world is letting down civil war victims

There has been a "total collapse of international solidarity" when it comes to helping the ever-growing number of refugees from Syria's civil war, humanitarian agencies said today.

The International Rescue Committee and the Norwegian Refugee Council berate rich countries for a lack of commitment in a new report which says that the plight of people fleeing the war has reached "a new level of hopelessness."

While overstretched neighbouring states make it more difficult to escape and developed countries such as the US, France and Britain resettle a tiny number of refugees, this results in fewer than 2 per cent of refugees being given new homes.

"We are witnessing a total collapse of international solidarity with millions of Syrian civilians," said Norwegian Refugee Council secretary-general Jan Egeland.

Lebanon and Jordan say that they are at breaking point, with Lebanon rejecting, as of last month, all but "exceptional" cases.

About 3.3 million people have fled Syria during the war and Lebanon, with a population of just 4.5 million, has taken in about a third of them.

The report commends Syria's neighbours, including Turkey and Iraq, for taking in refugees even though the influx has strained resources and threatened political stability.

In contrast, the US had resettled just 166 refugees from Syria by the end of September. France will resettle just 500 refugees and Britain a few hundred, the report adds.

The agencies are asking that developed countries act quickly to make sure that at least 5 per cent of Syria's refugees are able to "access protection," including resettlement, outside the region.

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