It’s been almost five years since the start of the Syrian crisis. During this time, over 2 million refugees have sought safety in surrounding states. While Jordan and Lebanon took early responsibility for those fleeing this wretched conflict, Europe is only now having to deal with a sudden influx of thousands of displaced Syrians.
The UNHCR has warned that scores of Syrians are leaving refugee camps each month to undertake the treacherous journey to Europe in the hope of reaching Germany or Sweden to secure a better future.
Though some well-meaning individuals feel this is a sensible solution to the plight of these refugees, Venture believes it’s ultimately better for all concerned if they remain as close to their home country as possible.
With winter fast approaching, rather than risk their lives by making their way to Europe, the EU—which has so far failed to reach a consensus on which country should take what number of refugees—should start considering boosting aid to countries like Jordan that have generally maintained an open border policy. Once their living standards improve, the numbers of Syrian refugees seeking to leave to Europe will no longer be as high.
If Jordan really wants to live up to its reputation as a safe haven, the government could further open up the job market to Syrians. Even if they’re not allowed to compete directly with Jordanians for jobs, they could, for instance, still fill positions in free zones alongside other expatriate workers. As difficult as it may be, Jordan needs to help these refugees integrate into the workforce and make a living, particularly now that food aid from organizations such as the WFP has been cut and there’s scant evidence of a diplomatic or military solution in sight for their country’s civil war.
While Western countries should take in more Syrian refugees, a coordinated policy needs to urgently be put in place to accommodate most of them in our part of the world in a way that gives them real hope for a better future. Otherwise we risk witnessing more dead bodies washing up on the shores of Europe.