In a press conference held today, the Committee of Refugees in Transit Countries, formed by the Syrian Coalition, calls on the EU countries concerned, especially the transit countries, to deal with Syrians in a humane manner that ensures they are not exploited by human traffickers, to ease their suffering in accordance with international laws and conventions, and to provide them with temporary shelters, taking into account the weather conditions and the approaching of winter.
“The increasing flow of refugees reflects the plans of the Iranian-backed Assad regime to systematically displace the Syrian people. We have already warned of the regime and Iran’s plans to bring about a demographic change and to partition Syria,” the committee said.
“We call for the establishment of a safe zones to protect Syrians from Assad’s air force and barrel bombs and to protect them from ISIS attacks.”
“We also call for forcing Assad to agree to a political solution based on the formation of a transitional governing body full powers, and on Assad’s stepping down to stop the killing, destruction and displacement,” it added.
“We emphasize that protection of refugees and supporting people’s rights to self-determination are enshrined in international laws and they are not choices to be made selectively.”
Vice-president Mustafa Osso stated that “the world has been deeply shocked by photos showing the suffering of Syrian refugees taking to the see and risking their lives in perilous and arduous journeys to reach Europe.”
“The crisis caused by the flow of refugees and immigrants is not something new, but has recently been further exacerbated and will grow into a disastrous global crisis. 100,000s of victims of war, including Syrians, feel that the world does nothing to end their suffering. Worried about an uncertain future lying ahead, 1000s now choose to immigrate and seek asylum in countries that provide a minimum feeling of safety,” he added.
Osso, who is a member of the committee, pointed out that “the refugee crisis began in mid-2011 with the Assad regime’s adoption of a military option to crush the popular uprising demanding freedom. Hoping the uprising will not last long, the regime refused to recognize the legitimacy of the peaceful movement, and committed violations leading to the siege and storming of cities.”
“This led to armed reactions by defectors from the Syrian army and local young men to defend themselves and their families. In response, the regime paved the way for extremism through facilitating the entry of extremists to Syria, and also released some extremists from its prisons under the guise of introducing reforms.”
“In parallel with the regime’s rejection of all kinds of political solution, millions of Syrians found themselves stuck between Assad’s barrel bombs and chemical weapons on the one hand, and ISIS’s knives and explosive belts on the other. Meanwhile, the international community has largely kept silent and failed to act decisively to support the rights and demands of the Syrian people,” Osso added.
Syrian Coalition member and member of the committee Noura al-Ameer said that “we acted on the ground from the Turkish city of Izmir and through some of the Greek islands to the Balkans down to Austria and Germany.”
“We have met a large number of refugees filling the streets sometimes out on the sidewalks waiting for a means to travel. We have felt great discontent among the refugees towards the media’s under-reporting of their perilous journeys and their portraying of these journeys as merely an attempt to escape from the hardships both inside Syria and in neighboring countries.”
“The committee’s presence in Izmir coincides with the tragic sinking of the boat carrying 12 refugees, most of whom are Syrians, including the child Aylan al-Kurdi and his family. It is painful how this tragedy that triggered the sympathy of refugees but did not dissuade them from taking the same journey, including those carrying children and babies with them.”
The committee has met with the Austrian Deputy Foreign Minister and contacted members of the Hungarian Foreign Ministry to explain the difficulties and the plight that Syrian refugees face. The committee called for facilitating the crossing of refugees to the host countries. It also reached out to foreign ministries of some countries, especially EU countries to follow-up on this issue.
Moreover, the committee is following-up with the situation of refugees in Europe and the neighboring countries with international organizations and the situation of civilians in rebel-held areas.
With regards to the sit-in staged by hundreds of Syrians near the Turkish city of Edirne to demand the opening of the Turkish-Greek border, committee member Nazir al-Hakim said that “I have left the sit-in at eight o’clock in the morning and contacted Turkey’s immigration chief to get answers for their questions.
He calls upon the United Nations and the EU to urgently find solution to the situation of refugees currently stranded in the Balkans and called for either facilitating their crossing to countries of asylum or to provide them with safe temporary shelters. (Source: Syrian Coalition)