Procedure : 2013/2611(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B7-0228/2013

Texts tabled :


Debates :

Votes :

PV 23/05/2013 - 13.7

Texts adopted :


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See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0199/2013

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

pursuant to Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure

on the situation of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries (2013/2611(RSP))

Marietje Schaake, Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck, Ivo Vajgl, Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, Marielle de Sarnez, Nathalie Griesbeck, Robert Rochefort, Louis Michel, Johannes Cornelis van Baalen, Sarah Ludford, Kristiina Ojuland, Sonia Alfano on behalf of the ALDE Group

European Parliament resolution on the situation of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries (2013/2611(RSP))  

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Syria, in particular those of 16 February(1) and 13 September(2) 2012,

–   having regard to the Foreign Affairs Council conclusions on Syria of 23 March, 23 April, 14 May, 25 June, 23 July, 15 October, 19 November and 10 December 2012, and of 23 January, 18 February, 11 March, and 22 April 2013; having regard to the European Council conclusions on Syria of 2 March, 29 June and 14 December 2012, and of 8 February 2013,

–   having regard to the statements by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), Catherine Ashton, on Syrian refugees, in particular her remarks during the plenary debate in Strasbourg on 13 March 2013 and her statement of 8 May 2013; having regard to the statements made by the Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva, on Syrian refugees and the EU’s response, in particular her statement of 12 May 2013, and to the ECHO (Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection) situation reports and factsheets on Syria,

–   having regard to the Security Council briefings on Syria issued by the Under‑Secretary‑General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, in particular that of 18 April 2013,

–   having regard to the remarks made by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, to the UN Security Council, in particular those of 18 April 2013,

–   having regard to the latest Syria Regional Response Plan (RRP) for January to June 2013, and to all the RRPs issued by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees since the first one in March 2012,

–   having regard to the 2013 Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan (SHARP) of 19 December 2012, prepared by the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic in coordination with the UN System,

–   having regard to the Syrian Humanitarian Bulletins issued by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA),

–   having regard to UN General Assembly Resolution 46/182, entitled ‘Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian emergency assistance of the United Nations’, and to the Guiding Principles annexed thereto,

–   having regard to the summary report of the high-level International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria, which took place in Kuwait on 30 January 2013,

–   having regard to the Final Communique of the Action Group for Syria (the ‘Geneva Communiqué’) of 30 June 2012,

–   having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

–   having regard to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the additional protocols thereto,

–   having regard to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol thereto on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, to which Syria is a party,

–   having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas up to 16 May 2013 the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had registered a total of 1 523 626 Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries and in North Africa; whereas the total number of refugees, including those unregistered, is assessed as being much higher; whereas according to the UNHCR 7 million Syrians rely on aid, 3.1 million children are in need because of the Syrian war, and the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) was 4.25 million as at 6 May 2013, out of a total Syrian population of 21.4 million;

B.  whereas in March 2013 the UN estimated that around 80 000 people, mostly civilians, had died because of the violence in Syria, and whereas this number is likely to have increased significantly;

C.  whereas the needs of Syrian citizens are growing rapidly and are most severe in the conflict and opposition-controlled areas; whereas Syria’s main cities have been devastated by the conflict; whereas significant parts of Deir Az Zor, Hama, Homs and Idlib have been reduced to rubble;

D.  whereas the destruction of essential infrastructure including schools and hospitals, the devaluation of the currency, rising food prices, fuel and electricity shortages and the lack of water, food and medicine have had an impact on the majority of Syrians;

E.  whereas physical access to people in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria remains severely constrained and depends on the Syrian Government’s cooperation;

F.  whereas all parties to the conflict have an obligation to abide by international humanitarian law and to protect civilians;

G.  whereas UN agencies have reported making progress in organising inter-agency aid convoys across conflict lines, to government-controlled, opposition-controlled and contested areas; whereas bureaucratic obstacles and checkpoints throughout the country (both government- and opposition-controlled) are hindering an effective humanitarian response in all areas of Syria;

H.  whereas according to the UNHCR the number of refugees (including those awaiting registration) present in receiving countries as at 16 May 2013 was as follows: Turkey – 347 815; Lebanon – 474 461; Jordan – 474 405; Iraq – 148 028; Egypt – 68 865; Morocco, Algeria and Libya – 10 052 (registered); whereas the actual number of Syrian refugees is much higher, as many have not registered;

I.   whereas registration remains the key mechanism through which people of concern are identified, protected and assisted, particularly new arrivals who have specific needs, including the disabled, the elderly, unaccompanied minors and separated children, in order to provide prioritised assistance;

J.   whereas the numbers of people in need have grown rapidly and will continue to do so; whereas the UNHCR estimates that the number of Syrian refugees could reach 3.5 million by the end of 2013 if the violence in Syria does not end; whereas since February 2013, 8 000 people have been crossing Syria’s borders every day;

K.  whereas approximately three quarters of the Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries are living outside camps in urban settings;

L.  whereas host communities and neighbouring countries, in particular Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq, have maintained an open-border policy throughout the crisis; whereas their ability and capacity to absorb and shelter the increasing stream of Syrian refugees is stretched to its limits and they need urgent support to continue to keep their borders open and assist refugees, including support in relation to infrastructure;

M. whereas humanitarian access to Syria depends on neighbouring countries;

N.  whereas the influx of Syrian refugees is creating challenges in neighbouring countries, including through the effects of economic decline, inflation and unemployment;

O.  whereas affording to pay rent is becoming a growing concern for many Syrian refugees as overcrowding and competition for shelter increase and prices rise; whereas refugees are experiencing significant income-expenditure gaps, limited work opportunities, exhaustion of savings and rising debt levels;

Q.  whereas competition for jobs and rising food prices are factors that are exacerbating tensions between local and refugee populations, particularly in Lebanon and Jordan, which together are hosting more than 1 million refugees;

R.  whereas continuing efforts to increase support for host communities are necessary in order to ease tensions and lift the burden on those communities;

S.  whereas the International Rescue Committee (IRC) is currently responding to the Syrian refugee situation in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, focusing primarily on women and children, who have special needs but are often under-served in urban refugee communities;

T.  whereas neighbouring countries have opted for different hosting methods; whereas Lebanon has adopted a ‘no camp’ policy and has generally absorbed refugees into local communities (across more than 1 200 villages); whereas the rural spread of the refugee population demands a complex urban registration programme;

U. whereas the Syrian crisis has become a critical threat to Lebanon, with its population having grown by more than 10 % (registered Syrian refugees) or 25 % (estimated number of Syrian refugees actually in the country);

V.  whereas approximately 350 000 Syrians are staying in 23 refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan and Iraq; whereas another six refugee camps are under construction: four in Turkey and one each in Jordan and Iraq;

W. whereas funding constraints continue to impede the timely and efficient delivery of basic humanitarian assistance; whereas SHARP requires a total of USD 563 million in funding to address the needs of people in Syria; whereas, as at 6 May 2013, the response plan was only 61 % funded;

X. whereas the current UN Regional Response Plan (RRP 4) is being revised for the period up to December 2013; whereas the UN will launch a new appeal for funding on 7 June 2013, which will reflect the rising number of refugees fleeing Syria and their continuing needs, as well as including greater support for host governments and communities, and is likely to amount to USD 3 billion;

Y.  whereas reports by aid organisations state that only 30 % to 40 % of the total funds pledged so far by the international community have actually been provided;

Z.  whereas the level of humanitarian assistance is likely to become unsustainable; whereas all the humanitarian actors involved need levels of financial support that are out of proportion to the established humanitarian aid budgets of traditional donors; whereas extraordinary funding mechanisms have to be established in order to meet basic needs arising from the Syrian crisis;

AA. whereas the EU has been the largest donor, providing a total of EUR 600 million in humanitarian assistance (EUR 265 million from ECHO and more than EUR 400 million from the Member States); whereas the provision of humanitarian aid funded by the Commission is channelled through mandated and professional international organisations in accordance with humanitarian principles;

AB. whereas 400 000 Palestinian refugees are affected within Syria; whereas almost 50 000 Palestinian refugees have been registered in Lebanon by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA); whereas in 2012 Jordan closed its border to Palestinians fleeing the conflict in Syria;

AC. whereas safety and security in Jordan’s Zaatari Camp have degenerated, with theft and fires taking place; whereas Zaatari has become Jordan’s fourth-largest city, housing more than 170 000 people; whereas riots and violent protests in the refugee camps are motivated by poor living conditions and delays in receiving assistance;

AD. whereas the overall lack of security continues to endanger lives in the camps, affecting humanitarian workers; whereas aid workers have been attacked, hospitalised and even killed while distributing aid, and whereas journalists have been beaten;

AE. whereas according to international organisations, women and girls in refugees camps are the victims of sexual violence and rape, which are also being used as a weapon of war; whereas there is no appropriate medical aid for Syrian refugees who are survivors of sexual violence; whereas this lack of access to timely and compassionate care is a human rights violation;

AF. whereas according to several sources, pleasure or mut’ah marriages (Islamic temporary marriages) are flourishing in Syrian refugee camps as men go to the camps to exploit and abuse women and girls;

AG. whereas the risk of spill-over effects from the Syrian war is likely to become structural rather than incidental; whereas the EU and the international community cannot afford an additional catastrophe; whereas a pan-regional political, security and humanitarian disaster would overwhelm international response capacity;

AH. whereas rising temperatures are increasing the outbreak of epidemics;

1.  Recalls that the Syrian Government bears primary responsibility for taking care of the well-being of its people and allowing access for the provision of humanitarian aid to all Syrians in accordance with international humanitarian law;

2.  Urges all parties to the conflict to uphold and respect basic international humanitarian law;

3.  Pays tribute to host communities and to Syria’s neighbouring countries, in particular Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, for their resourcefulness in providing shelter and humanitarian aid to families fleeing the war in Syria;

4.  Is extremely concerned about the dangerous tipping point that these host countries and communities are approaching, the domestic challenges faced by host countries and populations and the spill-over effects of the war in Syria and the influx of Syrian refugees, which could set off unprecedented regional instability;

5.  Welcomes the immense humanitarian aid operation to which international and local organisations are contributing under the auspices of the OCHA and the UNHCR and pays tribute to all humanitarian aid and health workers, international and local, for their courage and perseverance;

6.  Supports and welcomes the considerable contribution made by the Commission and the Member States to international humanitarian assistance programmes, and the political leadership shown by Commissioner Georgieva;

7.  Urges the Commission to present a comprehensive aid package – serving as an example to other major donors – to address the humanitarian crisis in Syria and its neighbouring countries, based on three pillars: i) increased humanitarian assistance (via ECHO), ii) support to help host countries strengthen local communities and increase capacity and infrastructure (via DEVCO), and iii) the swift introduction of macro-financial assistance packages for Lebanon and Jordan;


8.  Stresses that the EU has a particular responsibility for stability and security in its neighbourhood and calls on the VP/HR and the Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy to ensure that the EU plays a leading role in preventing the war in Syria from spilling over into neighbouring countries;

9.  Calls on the VP/HR, in close coordination with those EU Member States in the UN Security Council, to push for a Security Council resolution that allows humanitarian aid deliveries in all areas of Syria and ensures the protection of humanitarian aid workers;

10. Calls on all countries, and in particular the EU Member States, swiftly to fulfil the pledges they made at the Kuwait donor conference of 30 January 2013; calls on the EU and the international community to set up accountability mechanisms in order to ensure that all pledged funds reach their designated beneficiaries;

11. Urges all regional host governments to uphold the principles of non-refoulement and equal treatment of refugees; urges the UN, in close cooperation with donors, to solve the continuous lack of security and problems with law and order in refugee camps;

12. Denounces the use of sexual violence in the Syrian war, including as a weapon of war, urges the EU and the international community to allocate specific resources to ending sexual violence, and calls on host communities to provide proper medical treatment to those who have been victims of sexual violence;

13. Calls on the UNRWA, in light of the growing needs of the Palestinian refugee population in Syria and in neighbouring countries, generously to support ongoing efforts to shore up the resilience of those refugees and to minimise their suffering and displacement;

14. Reiterates its support for a political solution to the conflict in Syria; believes that the key to solving the conflict lies in facilitating a Syrian-led political process that will promote a credible and effective political solution in conjunction with those genuinely committed to transition;

15. Reaffirms that it is a priority to keep the humanitarian and political tracks separate, so as to facilitate access to those in need;

16. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice‑President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, and all the parties involved in the conflict in Syria.


Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0057.


Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0351.

Last updated: 21 May 2013Legal notice