European and Arab social democrats unite to tackle refugee crisis
European and Arab social democrats came together in Beirut, Lebanon today to the epicentre of the global refugee crisis. Ahead of the Malta summit, the leaders were in Lebanon to witness firsthand the enormous impact that the war in Syria has had on Lebanon, and discuss long term structural solutions.
The conference in Lebanon formed part of a larger process within the social democratic family, to develop a broadly supported and comprehensive strategy to deal with the current refugee crisis. Lebanon was already hosting a massive refugee presence from Palestine and is now dealing with more than a million from Syria.
Sergei Stanishev said after a visit to a local refugee settlement:
“Meeting people who flee war and terror and hearing their stories has been a harsh reality check and left us all appalled. Witnessing the challenging situation in which they live, and the difficulties which Lebanon is facing, is a real eye-opener to the frightening magnitude of the crisis. The dire situation countries neighbouring Syria are facing holds no comparison to the European one – neither by numbers nor by scale of impact. We therefore need to focus our efforts on assisting those who have opened their hearts and homelands to the Syrian refugees – their immediate neighbours".
“The EU has an enormous role to play in working with our Arab partners to look after refugees. We take that responsibility incredibly seriously. We are here to show our genuine commitment to the region. We are here to work together with our partners in the Arab world, with the UN and with civil society to find humane, sustainable solutions to the crisis.
To begin with, we must ensure that funds which have been established are immediately released to those host and transit countries who need them. But now more than ever, we need to target our support so that it brings tangible results in addressing the root causes of conflicts – eradicating poverty, boosting economies, creating jobs, strengthening democracy and rule of law, promoting sustainable development, etc.”