Syrian National Coalition Sends Letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Refugees

On 10 September, the Special Representative of the Syrian National Coalition to the United Nations, Dr. Najib Ghadbian, delivered a letter to the United Nations Secretary-General to draw attention to the plight of Syria's 4.2 million refugees and the urgent need for comprehensive action to solve the crisis. The letter highlighted how the Syrian people view the Secretary-General's upcoming meeting on "refugee and migration concerns" as an opportunity to:

  • Develop a plan to receive, process and compassionately resettle refugees fairly;
  • Develop regional plans to create legal routes to the EU and elsewhere, so that criminal traffickers are undercut and deaths are prevented along the journey;
  • Raise funds to ensure that there is greater structural support to neighbouring countries so that they can better cope with refugees, and above all;
  • Tackle the root cause of the refugee crisis by providing in-country protection for Syrian civilians through the enforcement of a no-fly zone which will immediately save the lives of at least 200 civilians per week and will ultimately reduce the flow of refugees, remove a recruiting tool for extremism, and increase the odds of a political settlement in Syria.

 Please see a full copy of the letter below.


 

The Honourable Ban Ki-Moon
Secretary General
United Nations
New York, NY
 
10 September 2015
 
Mr. Secretary-General,
 
On behalf of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, it is with deep sadness and growing urgency that I draw to your attention the plight of Syria’s 4.2 million refugees, and the urgent need for comprehensive action to solve the ongoing crisis in Syria and stem the tide of asylum seekers to Europe and the region.
 
Since the start of the Syrian uprising more than four years ago, the United Nations has shown great leadership in ensuring that Member States fulfil their legal and moral responsibilities to Syrian refugees.  The Syrian people are especially grateful to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which has ensured that millions of Syrians are treated with dignity and have regular access to schools, food, medicine, and shelter. 
 
Even with the best of intentions, however, these humanitarian efforts have not succeeded in stemming the flow of Syrians who are desperately fleeing the country they love.  Syrian refugees are fleeing horror—relentless bombings, chemical gassing, torture, rape and persecution.  For millions of Syrians, exodus is not a choice—it is the only way to survive.  Increasingly, however, the journey away from Syria and towards peace is growing perilous.  Syria’s neighbours are under growing strain.  They can no longer cope.  And so Europe becomes the only viable option for thousands of Syrian refugees.
 
Much of Europe is failing to shoulder its part of the burden.  While Germany and Sweden lead the way in responsible action, along with Austria, the United Kingdom and France, others have failed to treat refugees with the humanity and dignity they deserve. Hungary has erected fences. In Macedonia and Serbia criminals and smugglers operate openly with impunity, attacking and financially exploiting those who are most vulnerable. The Czech Republic has labelled refugees like cattle. Across Europe, refugees are being forced off trains, denied safe passage and asylum.  Hundreds of families who have risked their lives to flee the crisis in Syria are being forced into makeshift camps against their will.
 
The result is horrifying.  Last week, the bodies of two Syrian brothers aged only 3 and 5 years old arrived dead on Turkish shores.  They are just two of the thousands of Syrians who have paid with their lives to flee the brutality inflicted by a government they did not choose and a war they did not start.  The news of their deaths came just days after the bodies of 71 refugees were found in a truck abandoned on an Austrian motorway.
 
The growing frequency with which Syrian refugees are dying on European soil and shores demands a comprehensive response by the international community.  The crisis in Syria is no longer a Syrian problem.  It is a global problem and it requires a global solution.
 
It is thus with great expectation that we await your recently announced special meeting on ‘migration and refugee concerns’ that will be part of the upcoming General Assembly Ministerial Week on 30 September 2015.  This meeting offers the opportunity to generate an internationally coordinated response to the Syrian refugee crisis.  The Syrian people view it as a rare chance for world leaders to:
  • Develop a plan to receive, process and compassionately resettle refugees fairly;
  • Develop regional plans to create legal routes to the EU and elsewhere, so that criminal traffickers are undercut and deaths are prevented along the journey;
  • Raise funds to ensure that there is greater structural support to neighbouring countries so that they can better cope with refugees, and above all;
  • Tackle the root cause of the refugee crisis by providing in-country protection for Syrian civilians through the enforcement of a no-fly zone which will immediately save the lives of at least 200 civilians per week and will ultimately reduce the flow of refugees, remove a recruiting tool for extremism, and increase the odds of a political settlement in Syria. 
Your Excellency, the Syrian people have great hope for your upcoming meeting on the refugee crisis.  Given the central role that the Syrian conflict plays in driving the current crisis, we ask that the voices of ordinary Syrians be heard on 30 September, in particular those of Syrian refugees who have risked so much in their pursuit of peace and security.  We therefore ask that you extend an invitation to Syrian refugees and civil society activists on the ground, to allow them to speak directly to world leaders to share their plight and their call for the Syrian conflict to be resolved.  
 
The Syrian National Coalition remains unequivocally committed to a political solution to the Syrian conflict. However, more than four years into the crisis, it is clear that the dynamics on the ground must be changed in order to halt the violence, and create the momentum necessary for a political solution.  Now more than ever we need a comprehensive plan with a strategic long-term approach.  As the refugee crisis and threat of extremism continues to escalate and threaten global security, the onus is on Member States and the United Nations to take practical, enforceable steps to bring an end to this conflict and ensure the only viable option is a negotiated political solution.
 
Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurance of my highest consideration.
Dr. Najib Ghadbian
Special Representative to the United Nations
 
CC: H.E. Mr. António Guterres
       United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
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National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces
Committed to a free, democratic, and pluralistic Syria.