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Oxfam urges Syria refugee resettlements

Syrian refugees in camp in Islahiye, Turkey, on 16 March 2016

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AP

The UK and other wealthy nations should sharply increase the number of Syrian refugees they take in, Oxfam has said.

The charity wants 10% of the 4.8 million Syrians displaced by civil war to be resettled by the end of the year.

Ahead of UN talks in Geneva on the crisis, it highlighted figures showing only 1.4% had been helped so far.

Oxfam said UK plans to resettle 20,000 Syrians by 2020 were “not good enough”, but Britain says it is also focused on providing aid to people in the region.

The UK’s pledge of £2.3bn to help people affected by the humanitarian crisis caused by the civil war in Syria makes it the second largest bilateral donor in the world after the US.

Oxfam says while Britain has been generous in providing financial aid for those displaced by Syria’s civil war, it “can and should do more”.

It argues that countries with strong economies and developed infrastructures need to shoulder a greater responsibility towards refugees than nations such as Lebanon and Jordan, where thousands of Syrians are now based.

The Geneva conference should, the UK-based charity added, result in “urgent solutions, offering people safe and legal routes to a welcome” in other countries.

Oxfam examined the pledges of 28 nations that are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and signatories to the 1951 Convention on Refugees.

It says they have promised to take in almost 130,000 of Syrian refugees, although only 67,000 have actually arrived.

The 10% of Syrian refugees Oxfam wants the rich nations to take in by the end of the 2016 represents the proportion the UN says are very vulnerable and in need of resettlement.

According to Oxfam’s analysis, only Canada, Germany, Norway have made resettlement pledges exceeding their “fair share”, a measure based on the size of their economies.

It says five other nations – Australia, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand – have pledged more than half of their fare share. In contrast, the UK is set to take 22% of its fair share, the US just 7%, and France only 4%.

Mark Goldring, chief executive of Oxfam GB said: “It’s shocking that while people continue to flee Syria most countries have failed to provide a safe home for the most vulnerable.”

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