October 10, 2018
Today Is World Mental Health Day
Doctors of the World is alarmed by the poor response of some European states in welcoming Syrian refugees and is calling upon them to take further action
With 4.25 million people internally displaced within Syria and more than 1.5 million other Syrians having fled to neighboring Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, the capacity of these countries to accommodate refugees is reaching saturation point.
Although Syrians now account for the majority of asylum seekers in Europe, France is not pulling its weight when it comes to welcoming refugees. Between January and April 2013 only 282 Syrians are said to have applied for asylum there.
However, in the region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais (France) – where many migrants are in transit on their way to the UK – Doctors of the World teams are now seeing considerable numbers of Syrians fleeing violence and oppression. The lack of existing mechanism in place for them to gain asylum, compels them to a life of constant uncertainty in appalling and dangerous conditions.
“As is the case for other migrants, the situation of Syrian migrants is extremely precarious. Between 2012 and 2013 around 85 of them have attended our mobile clinic in the area of Dunkerque. They are mostly fleeing war and hope to return to Syria once the conflict is over,” explained Cécile Bossy, Doctors of the World Nord-Pas-de-Calais Coastal Migrant Programme Coordinator.
Despite its diplomatic mobilisation on the Syrian crisis, the French government claims not to have the emergency capacity to welcome refugees. A disappointing policy, that is very far from the stance of other European countries. Sweden, where the greatest number of applications were filed in 2012, has decided to grant systematic protection to Syrian refugees– ) 3-year right to residence or refugee status – thus offering support to more than 15,000 Syrians in 2012. Meanwhile, Germany announced last March that it would welcome at least 5,000 additional Syrian refugees in 2013. This decision was hailed by the European Commission which expressed the hope that other Member States would follow this example.
In the context of this ongoing war and in the face of relentless violence against civilians, Doctors of the World is appealing for greater solidarity from the European Union and in particular the French government with regard to Syrian refugees.
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