Syrian people have endured one of the most severe armed conflicts of this century which, up to now, has claimed approximately 250 000 lives, injured over 1 million people, displaced over 6.5 million people throughout the country (in addition to half a million Palestinian refugees) and an estimated 13.5 million people who are in a precarious humanitarian situation.
Since 2011, it is estimated that over 4.8 million Syrians have fled. The vast majority of them are staying in the countries adjacent to Syria: Jordan (over 600 000), Lebanon (over 1 million), Iraq (over 200 000) and Turkey (over 2 million). In all of these countries, the humanitarian situation is aggravated by the presence of numerous other refugees and, in the case of Turkey, by internal displacement.
The living conditions of Syrian refugees in the neighbouring countries have dramatically deteriorated with the protraction of the Syrian crisis over the last year. This humanitarian catastrophe has many aspects, including poor accommodation, restrictions on movement, insufficient or no access to employment, health services and education, and discrimination endured from local authorities and host communities.
Deplorable reception conditions in the neighbouring countries constitute the major push factor which forces refugees to undertake life-threatening journeys across the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe. These journeys have taken over 4 000 lives since the beginning of this year.
In this context the implementation of the EU-Turkey Agreement with regard to the return of migrants to Turkey from Greece must also raise humanitarian concerns.
The Parliamentary Assembly should look more closely into possible ways of improving reception conditions in the region, including increased contributions from the European countries, with a view to making recommendations in this respect.