Refugee crisis

3 - Humanitarian response to host and origin countries of refugee crisis

Grade: C
Unity 2/5
Resources 3/5
Strategy 2/5
Impact 1/5
Total 8/20
Scorecard 2015: C (8/20)
Scorecard 2014: C+ (10/20)

Some states adjusted aid programmes to support refugees in the region, but international support for the camps remained insufficient

Insufficient international funding for food, shelter, and supplies in refugee camps in the Middle East in early 2015 was one of the triggers for the large numbers of people making the journey to Europe. This was despite the European Council announcing plans to target support to the “buffer states” where these camps are located, which are physically on the frontline in hosting refugees from the Syrian conflict and are vulnerable to wider regional instability.

There was an increase in European aid to camps in the region later in 2015, which had a limited humanitarian impact. The EU and its member states collectively allocated €939.5 million to support UNHCR and the World Food Programme in 2015 and 2016. Denmark, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the UK in particular have prioritised this. Other member states – notably Hungary, Latvia, Malta, and Poland – did not increase aid to refugees in the region, reasoning that the pressures of refugee inflows within the EU left little scope for increasing overseas contributions.

Overall, international support for handling the refugee crisis in the Middle East in 2015 was not sufficient to put the camps in the region on a more stable footing, and has done little to stem flows to Europe. This is in part because funding for the camps remains at stopgap level, and refugees in the region face a life of limbo – often with no access to education, employment, or proper healthcare. The EU Regional Trust Fund for the Syrian crisis is a package of programmes supporting access to services worth €350 million. But the international community would need to significantly scale up support for efforts to tackle these major structural challenges before it could expect to see an impact in reducing the numbers of refugees arriving in the EU.