Five years ago in June 2011, the displacement and refugee crisis of Syrian began. Since then, it has only increased, rising from several thousand refugees at the end of June 2011 to at least 11.5 million Syrians who have been forced to leave their homes during this period.
At the end of May 2016, the number of Syrian refugees reached 4.84 million people, and the number of displaced people inside Syria reached 6.6 million. These statistics reveal that one in every two Syrians has been forced to leave their home, and that 50 families are being forced to leave their homes every hour since 2011.
The world’s concern- and even that of the neighbouring region- is focussed on the refugee crisis, involving those that have left Syria to neighbouring and further countries. This is whilst the displaced have been given less attention, and there are less facts and reports available on their situation.
In 2015 alone, 1.3 million people were added to the list of displaced in Syrian, making up 15% of all displaced people in the world in that year due to the violence that they are witnessing around them.
It is well known that the total number of displaced people in Syria, which the UN estimated to be 6.6. million people in mid 2016, is much less than the real number, particularly as it is difficult for international organisations to reach various areas in Syria, especially those under the control of ISIS. In addition, the process of documenting the number of displaced people faces technical and methodological challenges, such as the fact that the displaced live in host communities and do not introduce themselves (for example, in order to seek assistance). It is impossible to count them all, in the same way that it is impossible to know the percentage of refugees that were among the displaced initially.
The displaced suffer from a sharp lack of services in contrast to what refugees in neighbouring countries receive. This is because it is difficult for international organisations to offer food, drinking water, health services and educational services in the majority of areas inside Syria.
In addition to the lack of such services, the displaced also suffer from the continued targeting of their camps and places of settlement by war plane bombing, or missile and artillery bombardment by ISIS. SHRC has documented 15 attacks against the displaced which took place during the first half of 2016, the most dangerous of which took place on 5/5/2016 when a war plane believed to be Russian targeted the Kamunah camp for the displaced in rural Sarmada, killing 16 people, the majority of them children.
Migration Following Refuge
The last couple of years have seen a steady rise in the number of Syrian refugees who leave the neighbouring countries they escape to, to countries which offer asylum, particularly in Europe.
The year 2015 saw the highest number of refugees reaching Europe via sea since 2008, with up to 1,015,078 people taking the dangerous journey. However, this number dramatically decreased in 2016, with only 211, 563 people crossing the sea between January and May 2016.
Among those that crossed the sea in 2015, Syrians constituted the largest group, making up 38% of the refugees reaching Europe.
In parallel with the arrival of refugees into Europe, 2015 also witnessed the highest number of deaths by sea, with the number of refugees drowning documented as 3,771 people. In the first half of 2016, the number of deaths by sea was 2,868 people. These numbers are the highest since 2010.
The Refugees Did Not Choose to Leave!
The Syrian refugee crisis has received international attention since 2015 and until now, and especially after the Syrian refugees began arriving into Europe.
However, this attention has painted a flawed image of the refugees. Firstly: the attention has been given to the humanitarian suffering faced by refugees during their journey, whilst almost completely ignoring the reasons which compelled them to leave their homes in the first place, and which continues to force people to leave Syria. Secondly: the international attention has focussed on how to stop refugees from entering Europe or neighbouring countries (Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan), without taking into consideration their human right to a dignified life.
Since the International Day for Refugees last year and until today, the number of refugees has risen by approximately 910,000 people, a number which almost triples when it comes to the number of Syrian refugees that have reached Europe during the same period. Thus, the shallow solutions being put forth by the international community do not offer any solution to the issue of refugees or to the European Union which is suffering from the refugee crisis.
SHRC emphasises that the solution to the refugee issue will not be solved except through addressing the reasons which forced the refugees to leave their homes, the most prominent of which is the arbitrary bombing targeting the homes of Syrians with the use of internationally prohibited weapons such as explosive barrels and phosphorous and cluster bombs.