Not-so-open borders for Syrian refugees?


Aid agencies, human rights organizations and local government officials are increasingly concerned about thousands of people who have fled violence in Syria only to end up stuck at border crossings waiting to enter countries to seek asylum.

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), local authorities in Turkey report that more than 10,000 Syrians are located at various points on the Syrian side of the border, many of them waiting to enter Turkey.

Except for medical emergencies, the border crossing between Syria and Iraq’s border district of al-Qa’im has been closed since 21 October, according to an Iraqi deputy minister, a district official and a UNHCR representative stationed at the border.

Syrian activist Rima Flihan, a member of the local coordination committees (LCC) who now lives in Jordan, told IRIN Syrian civilians have also been turned back by Jordanian authorities at the border and at the airport. She said Syrians have had similar trouble entering Libya.

“There are many countries preventing Syrian people from entering their countries,” she said.

In some countries on the Eastern edge of the European Union (EU), rejection rates for Syrians turning up at their borders are more than 50 per cent, according to UNHCR.

“In addition, some countries are more likely to give Syrians a tolerated stay rather than actual protection,” spokesperson Adrian Edwards told a press briefing in Geneva on 16 October. “There is therefore a risk that people in need of protection will be denied the rights to which they are entitled under EU or international law.”

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