Syrian Aid Conference Begins in Brussels
A two-day Syrian aid conference opened in Brussels that hopes to raise at least $6 billion in aid for Syrians in the war-wrecked country and for those living as refugees in the region.
The E.U. and U.N.-hosted conference will see 85 governments and aid agencies meet to discuss aid, as well as the limited avenues for peace talks and reconstruction in Syria.
Last year’s aid conference in Brussels raised $6 billion, but made little headway on diplomacy or resettling refugees and 2017 became one of the deadliest years in the seven-year conflict.
Ahead of the conference, aid agencies warned in a statement that only 20 percent of the Syrian humanitarian response is currently funded, highlighting that 2.7 million Syrian refugee children are not in school.
“Politicians promise in haste but deliver at leisure,” said Marta Lorenzo, regional director of Oxfam. “They need to make good on their promises to the people of Syria.”
Germany Plans Iraqi Returns; Resettlement Places
Germany plans to return 10,000 rejected asylum seekers to Iraq, while accepting 10,000 refugees through the U.N. resettlement program.
With Berlin bringing in 10,000 refugees by autumn 2019, the E.U. nears completion of its plan to resettle 50,000 refugees overall. “Our goal is to prevent illegal migration and to replace it with legal migration,” Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters. Germany has also tripled its financial support to the U.N. refugee agency in the last three years.
Meanwhile, German development minister Gerd Muller met with Iraqi officials in Baghdad and said they would work more closely on Iraqi returns from Germany. “The aim is to support up to 10,000 Iraqis from Germany in re-establishing themselves and building something new,” he said.
Greece Reinstates Restrictions on Asylum Seekers Leaving Islands
Less than a week after Greece’s highest court lifted restrictions that confine asylum seekers to the islands, the new Greek Asylum Service director put new restrictions in place.
The Council of State decision last week rejected the geographical restriction associated with the 2016 E.U.-Turkey deal as unconstitutional and Greece confirmed it would abide by the ruling for new arrivals.
Shortly after, Markos Karavias took over as director of the asylum service and signed an agreement that would keep migrants on the islands from traveling to mainland Greece.
Asylum seekers protesting their exclusion from the earlier court decision were attacked by a far-right counterprotest on the Greek island of Lesbos. Police arrested 120 asylum seekers and two Greeks for illegal camping, but none of attackers have yet been apprehended, the Associated Press reported.
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