Syrian refugee crisis is a story of human catastrophe

Manama, With war stretching over nine years with no solution in the offing, the Syrian refugee crisis has emerged as one of the most daunting challenges for the global community.

Dr. Shaikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Bahrain Center for Strategic, International, and Energy Studies (DERASAT), in his keynote address at the opening of a workshop highlighted the pain, suffering and challenges faced by internally displaced Syrians or those who left the country due to brutality of war.

DERASAT organised a workshop to discuss the issue of the safe return of Syrian refugees. The workshop was aimed at presenting the situation of the refugees in host countries as well the conditions inside Syria and whether those conditions permit a sustainable return.

More importantly, the workshop presented a platform for Western countries to clarify their position on the return of the refugees.

The half-day workshop attracted experts and senior officials from the UN ESCWA, UN Habitat, World Bank, research centers, non-governmental organisations as well as government officials.

We invited individuals who can speak objectively about the situation and although these discussions are not negotiations nor peace talks, we would like to see positive outcomes resulting from it, Shaikh Abdulla said.

It is true that numbers alone can never truly illustrate the human tragedy at the heart of this issue, but they do well to characterise both the size of the problem, and the issue's global ramifications, he said, adding that since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, at least 13.1 million people have required humanitarian assistance, six million of whom are internally displaced.

Another five million refugees have crossed international borders. Of those, approximately 3.6 million have landed in Turkey, a million in Lebanon, over 650,000 in Jordan and over a million in the European Union. These numbers are alarming, and portray the enormous scale of the crisis.

We have witnessed socio-political effects in countries as far away from Syria as Germany, Sweden and Norway. The economies of Greece and many other countries have been strained further and further. Some would go as far as to argue that the politics of many European countries have shifted irreversibly due to the migrant crisis, much of whom are Syrian refugees. The reality is that this is a global humanitarian crisis, on a scale we have not seen since the World War II or the partition of India, he said.

Bahrain has never hesitated in assisting its Syrian brethren, and under direct orders from His Majesty the King, the Royal Charity Organisation has done much to protect and provide for the needs of Syrian refugees, he stressed

To this end, he said, the Kingdom has built schools and hospitals, as well as wells for clean drinking water.

In Jordan, the Kingdom of Bahrain has built an educational complex, consisting of four separate schools that collectively teach 9,600 pupils.

Through cooperation with UNICEF, water wells have been dug in Jordan, to ensure a clean supply of water. Hospitals have also been built by Bahrain, as well as 3,000 housing units.

His Highness Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Royal Charity Organisation, has visited refugees in Turkey, to ensure their basic needs are met.

"Under the directives of His Majesty the King, Bahrain has donated $20 million to the refugees' cause. All of the above and much more have been achieved by working with the respective involved governments, the UN, and NGOs. The Kingdom of Bahrain is, and always will be, committed to finding a humanitarian solution. To this end, in the international context, Bahrain is always ready and willing to stand by Syrian refugees. Nonetheless, without the ultimate return of the refugees to their homeland, no matter how much the world provides aid, their plight and suffering will persist.

The half-day workshop gathered experts and senior officials from the UN ESCWA, UN Habitat, World Bank, research centers, non-governmental organizations as well as government

officials.

On the choice of speakers and attendees, Dr. Sh. Abdulla said: We invited individuals who can speak objectively about the situation and although these discussions are not negotiations nor peace talks, we would like to see positive outcomes resulting from it.

Source: Bahrain News Agency