What Can Be Done to Help Syrian Refugees?

As time goes on, the situation in Syria becomes more and more severe with over 2 million refugees fleeing their homeland to find protection and shelter. Refugees leave their native land in fear of persecution and war and are offered the same rights that are provided to others such as life, liberty and security of person.  Furthermore, refugees have been awarded the right not be penalized for illegally entering a country if they request asylum. These rights and more have been provided to refugees through many treaties such as the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Refugee’s Convention.  The United Nations has begun to implore other countries to take action to secure the rights and safety of Syrian refugees.

Countries are not bound to the necessity of admitting foreign refuges unto their land, however International law does recognize that each individual has a right to seek asylum.  The UN has requested that the international community reduce their high restrictions of admitting refugees into their land in order to save the lives of Syrians trying to escape the difficult circumstances. Many Syrians who have been trying to escape by boat and seek shelter in other countries have already been attacked while on their voyage and many have been killed.  Others have either departed to countries such as Egypt, Italy and other parts of Europe in hopes of finding a place for protection. Furthermore, the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) has been attempting to intervene on the cases of at least 800 Syrians who have been arrested in Egypt for trying to illegally depart.

Although foreign countries do have a right to reject refugees in order to protect the lives of their own people, every person has a right to live his or her life in a peaceful manner. It is the responsibility of the United Nations to bring peace both between countries and within countries.  Other countries need to begin to work together to bring peace and should open the doors to refugees who are unable to find security in their own homeland.

What do you think the UN should do to bring about safety to Syrian refugees?  What can be done financially to assist other countries in providing for Syrian refugees as well as their own people?


United Nations

U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants

University of Pittsburgh






  1. Unfortunately on this issue there is a sovereignty problem. The UN has no territorial claim to land to provide a safe haven to refugees, they have to rely on members in neighboring areas to assist. The UN does everything in its power to help the refugees, but as the article mentioned, the nation can reject refugees in order to protect their own. Most nations, I feel would be under pressure to reject refugees from some groups of citizens and that only compounds the problem. Since the UN can only do so much, their arguments are only persuasive and not binding on member countries.

    What I think can be done is the UN can act in concert with a neighboring country the refugees are fleeing to such as Egypt. For example, the UN can try and raise funds in way and pay for the refugees. The UN can work with Egypt and try to find a temporary settlement for the refugees and when the conflict in Syria is solved, the UN and Egypt can oversee the refugees returning to Syria. This way the refugees are paid for not by the Egyptian government and they have a safe haven from civil war. It is a complicated problem and my solution isn’t perfect, but I feel this situation is a stacked deck against the Syrian refugees.

  2. I agree with Edward. I also think that the UN can try to work with the receiving nations towards establishing a temporary settlement for these refugees. The issue is also one where time is of great importance.

    The UN cannot just sit on the sidelines. It must work proactively to protect these refugees and in establishing temporary settlement areas, the UN can provide receiving nations with resources specifically for these refugees.

    Lastly, I think that it is of most importance to keep in mind the tremendous amount of displaced persons within Syria itself. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 2.5 million Syrians have fled their homes since the start of the civil war. Although many have taken refuge in neighboring countries, many more are displaced within Syria itself. I submit that the majority of the UN’s focus with regards to this issue should be steered towards these people, for they too are refugees.

  3. I agree with Edward that sovereignty of the member countries is a major obstacle that the United Nations is not equipped to overcome. However, it is very important that the United Nations continue to encourage the member countries to accept refugees and offer incentives such as funding so that the refugees are safe, and the country accepting them is not neglecting the needs of its own citizens at the same time.

    What is happening in Syria presently occurred in other countries over the years including Israel and Bosnia. The Syrian people are escaping their native land not because they want to, but because these refugees were being persecuted in their country. Asylum is their only hope at living in peace and being free to live their lives without watching over their back.

    I believe that the United Nations and the member countries must unite and help the refugees from Syria because just as the refugees in the past sought asylum from their various countries, the future is uncertain and this problem is likely to re-occur, and it is unpredictable which countries will seek support next. Help to be helped, but most importantly help these refugees because it is the right/moral thing to do.

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