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Humanitarian relief and migration crises

57 - Humanitarian response to refugee crisis in Middle East

Grade: C
Unity 2/5
Resources 3/5
Outcome 3/10
Total 8/20
Scorecard 2014: C+ (10/20)

EU states and the European Commission have increased aid to Syria and Iraq this year, but the humanitarian challenge remains significant.

The Syrian conflict and its spillover into Iraq have posed a major challenge to the overstretched international humanitarian aid system. The US and Arab countries (many of which are involved in fuelling the conflict) have made major pledges of humanitarian aid, but European donors have also contributed significantly. The European Commission calculates that the EU has collectively pledged €3 billion since the Syrian war began, including to countries bordering conflicts. But this has still not been enough.

One obstacle has been the Syrian government’s refusal to permit humanitarian access. Luxembourg played a leading role in crafting two UN resolutions addressing this challenge (see component 53), including gaining authorisation in July for aid agencies to operate inside Syria without government approval. Yet by December, only a fraction of the 12 million displaced persons inside Syria had received supplies.

With violence increasing, donors had to raise their spending well beyond their projections: the European Commission, for example, had earmarked €150 million for Syria in 2014, but spent over €400 million. The Iraq crisis presented a further threat. During the Mount Sinjar emergency, Britain and France used military means to get aid to the suffering. The UK also made a major donation of tents and other equipment for the displaced through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Ireland is among the highest per capita aid contributors to Syria.

Belgium, Cyprus, Germany, and Sweden made significant efforts to accept asylum seekers. Spain focused on preventing Syrian asylum seekers from staying in the country. Bulgaria, Greece and Italy struggled to deal with the flood of refugees and migrants arriving on their shores, receiving little support from the rest of Europe. Nevertheless, arrivals in Europe are low in comparison with countries bordering on conflict zones. The UNHCR estimated that in summer 2014, 123,671 Syrian refugees were in Europe, compared with 2.8 million in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt. The inadequacy of international