UN chief Ban demands "exponential increase" in resettling Syrians

Wealthy countries must show much greater hospitality to Syrians by offering nearly half a million places for long-term resettlement, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday at UN Syrian refugee conference in Geneva.

"We are here to address the biggest refugee and displacement crisis of our time. This demands an exponential increase in global solidarity," Ban said.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) convened a meeting of more than 90 countries at the Swiss UN seat, aiming to win new pledges for resettlement, family reunification programmes, as well as work and study visas.

These programmes are separate from usual asylum procedures. They are aimed especially at vulnerable groups including women, children and people with medical needs.

Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and North African countries have been shouldering the task of hosting most of the Syrians who have fled the war in their country.

The 4.8 million Syrian war refugees in these countries have put serious strains on state budgets and public services.

"Communities hosting refugees in neighbouring countries are exhausted," Ban said.

So far, wealthy countries have pledged 178,000 of the 480,000 resettlement spots needed for Syrians, according to UN estimates.

Ban said countries should not demonize refugees but should see the opportunities that the people could bring to their new host countries.

"Today, they are refugees. Tomorrow, they can be students and professors, scientists and researchers, workers and caregivers," he said.

Last update: Wed, 30/03/2016 - 11:07
Author: 

More from World

Reports: Wife of Orlando gay nightclub shooter arrested in California

The wife of the man who killed 49 people in a gay nightclub in Florida in June has been arrested, according to news...

Five killed in shooting in Mexico after music festival

A shooting early Monday at a Mexican beach disco where people had gathered at the end of a music festival killed...

Four Turkish police officers killed by blast in south-east

A blast killed four Turkish police officers in the south-eastern city of Diyarbakir on Monday, the state-run Anadolu...

Trump's 'obsolete' NATO comments rattle EU foreign ministers

US president-elect Donald Trump's criticism of NATO has been met with "concern" by the military alliance's top...

Burundi to withdraw AU troops from Somalia over salaries unpaid by EU

Burundi will withdraw its 5,400 troops serving as part of an African Union contingent in Somalia because the...