MUSLIM Institute organized a Round Table Discussion on “Syrian Refugees Crisis: Responsibilities of International Community” at National Library of Pakistan, Islamabad. Former President NDU & Chairman Pakistan People Forum, Lt. Gen (R) Raza Muhammad Khan, Chairman MUSLIM Institute Sahibzada Sultan Ahmad Ali, Deputy Head of Delegation of the European Union, Mr. Stefano Gatto, Deputy Head of Mission Embassy of Turkey Ms. R. Demet Sekercioglu, First Secretary Embassy of Germany Mr. Kai Muller Berner, First Secretary Embassy of Russia Mr. Anton Chernov, Former Foreign Additional Secretary Ambassador Ishtiaq Hussain Andrabi, Ambassador Amir Anwar Shadani, Renowned Columnist Ambassador Asif Ezdi, Associate Dean Department of Peace and Conflict Studies NUST Dr. Tughral Yamin, Ambassador Tariq Usman Haider, Ambassador Khalid Khattak, Renowned TV Anchor and Analyst Dr. Moeed Pirzada, and Renowned Anchor Mr. Ahmad Qureshi shared their views on the occasion. Renowned TV Anchor Mr. Faisal Rehman moderated the proceedings of Round table Discussion.
Salient points of addressed of honorable speakers are as follows:
Ongoing conflict in Syria has led to massive displacements and migrations, causing serious humanitarian crisis in shape of large number of refugees. The same warrants immediate steps on the part of international community in general and aid agencies in particular. According to UNHCR, over nine million persons have been displaced in Syria as of the start of October 2015. Neighboring countries of Syria have Bourne major brunt of refugees as its five neighbors Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq are hosting four million refugees while over four hundred thousand Syrian refugees are reported to have reached Europe so far and many are being offered settlements by EU countries.
An alarming fact is that half of these total refugees are children. Here in Pakistan, we have experienced refugee’s crisis of our neighboring Afghanistan and have realization of magnitude of sufferings and woes of refugees. Refugees suffer physically and psychologically, materially and emotionally, externally and internally. Leaving one’s homeland, losing all that one has achieved through struggle of decades and generations, foregoing comforts of life, leading life in camps, hearing screams of hungry and ailing infants, taking on uncertain future, unable to provide one’s children any hope for struggle and above all not knowing how many more woes are still there, are shared miseries of refugees. For the refuges travelling to Europe, their journey is dangerous and full of pain and many have died during it especially while travelling through ocean. Human trafficking is another issue that needs to be tackled while the refugees crisis is addressed.
More intensive efforts to mobilize global support to offer respectable living conditions to the refugees are warranted because in coming months inclement weather conditions would further aggravate miseries of refugees. The Syrian refugee exodus is the most prominent current manifestation of this unfortunate situation and symbolizes that for reasons of commission and omission many countries and regions have been plunged into turmoil ranging from parts of Africa to Iraq and Syria in the Middle East. Syrian people have also become victim of international conflict of interests in Syria. The Syrian refugees are part of a large continuum which should not be lost sight off and end of civil war is immediately required by a quick political solution.
There has been an unprecedented global rise and surge in displacements of IDPs, refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants which is straining the capacity of the affected nations and institutions such as the UNHCR, other parts of the UN system and IOM amongst others. Efforts should be focused on resolving the situations of conflict and mis-governance which have been the cause for displacements, internal, regional and further afield. Adequate funding and support should be provided to the UNHCR, the primary UN organization mandated to look after refugees. EU, OIC, Arab League and GCC must play their due role in this regard. In terms of both temporary shelter and resettlement, while security considerations are the right of every host nation, there should not be any preference or discrimination in terms of race or creed. A special zone can be created within Syria, on the borders of Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon to keep the refugees. Countries that have capacity to take and adjust the refugees like US, Australia, Canada etc. should play their due role in accommodating maximum refugees. All Muslim countries, including Pakistan especially Middle Eastern countries must also help the Syrian refugees, to the extent possible. International assistance which has been declining for the Afghan refugees in Pakistan should be increased and sufficient funds should be provided for their voluntary repartition to Afghanistan.
Interactive session was also held in the RTD and speakers discussed and answered different questions raised by the participants. Deputy Heads of Missions and delegations of different countries, professors of universities, researchers from different institutions, analysts, TV anchor persons and media personnel actively participated in the discussion.