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In search of country, home and hope

Jun 20,2015 - Last updated at Jun 20,2015

Since 2012, I have seen the Syria crisis unfolding under my eyes and the subsequent tremendous generosity of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and its citizens in providing assistance to the refugees.

I am proud to say that the EU, along with the international community, has been at the forefront in supporting these national efforts, and we will continue to do so.

The EU has been in fact the number one donor to respond to the crisis in the region with over 1.8 billion euros in humanitarian and development assistance.

There is no end in sight to the crisis, a crisis that has obliged almost 12 million people to leave their homes and lands, many of them into other countries.

While recognising that displacement is most of the time driven by fear, there is hope, when fleeing, that one would find a place free from persecution, a new home for one’s family, hope for the future and for the return to the home country.

That is why country, home and hope are the words that best symbolise a refugee’s mindset.

Currently, several countries feel the impact of the Syrian crisis: Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.

The human suffering of the refugees is atrocious. Not only are civilians caught in the line of fire, they are also victims of abuses, inhuman treatments and have no food security. In reality, a big portion of them are starving to death inside Syria.

Syria’s neighbouring countries have taken in nearly four million Syrian refugees, but they are reaching their limits.

Syrian refugees now make up more than 20 per cent of Jordan’s population. In Lebanon, every fourth person is now a Syrian.

They need food, shelter, education, healthcare and work. This means fewer resources available for all. The host communities in these countries have shown exemplary solidarity, but they are also paying the price.

There is fear there as well, fear of the unknown.

The crisis has also driven many refugees to risk their lives by seeking better living conditions on European soil through illegal migration channels resulting in the everyday human tragedies in the Mediterranean Sea.

To refugees, home is now represented by informal settlements, refugee camps or precarious shelters within the communities, which I have personally visited.

Nothing prepares one to the reality of such individual human misery: to the stories of suffering and death, to the gaze of the hungry, to the faces of traumatised children.

But they are safe now. They have been provided with refugee papers and hence they receive food vouchers and cash assistance.

They have lost everything, leaving behind their houses, their lands, their relatives, their memories. But they are alive and there is still hope.

I have hope.

This tragedy is so close to us, Europeans, not only because of the close historical and cultural ties that link us to the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries as neighbours, but also because it reminds us of where we come from, the ashes of the two world wars.

Since then, we have grown; we have understood the value and the significance of peace and solidarity.

The EU and its member states want stable neighbouring countries and solid homes for their citizens. But this should not be the privilege of a few.

We are called to share our lessons, to remember them, to ensure solidarity.

The EU stands ready to continue supporting the outstanding efforts of Jordan and neighbouring countries in absorbing refugees, as there are many growing challenges requiring even closer attention.

So far, the EU has allocated around 500 million euros in humanitarian, resilience and crisis response to help Jordan deal with the impact of the Syrian crisis.

These efforts will be sustained, in particular with the recent establishment of the new EU regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis, and the allocation of its first response programmes to the region, which illustrates the EU commitment to alleviate the needs of the vulnerable communities and refugees, and to remain a reliable partner for Jordan and other impacted countries.

The EU strives to uphold human rights and to protect adults and children, especially women and girls, against violence, abuse and exploitation.

The EU will keep accompanying the refugees in their search for country, home and hope.

 

The writer is ambassador of the European Union to Jordan. She contributed this article to The Jordan Times.

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