By Liam Scott
NEW YORK (UN Press Corps) - The Commission on Population and Development in New York City has busied itself with confronting the issue of Syrian refugees displaced due to the conflict in Syria. This conflict arose in 2011 between rebel forces and the Syrian government. This violence has since only worsened, developing into a multi-side conflict riddled with terrorism, war crimes, and chemical weapons. Civilians remain caught amidst this extreme violence. Since the beginning of the conflict, more than 4.5 million people have fled Syria, and 13 million Syrians have been displaced.
It is that the conflict in Syria will end soon. Therefore, assessing the integration and treatment of Syrian refugees has become a more prevalent issue. Poorly planned integration can prove harmful for the refugees and host country alike. According to RAND, “Germany, Austria, and Sweden have also improved active labor market policies and implemented mandatory integration measures, including an increase in funding for language courses and the development of mechanisms to assess previously acquired skills” (“Europe’s Great Challenge: Integrating Syrian Refugees”). While these strategies have proven effective, not all countries are capable of providing such programs.
Initially in CPD, countries such as Jordan, Sweden, and Bahrain, thought the most pressing issue is that smaller countries in the area—like Jordan—have been inundated with refugees. Conversely, the delegate from Jordan maintained that Western countries often wish to advocate for their own “programs” in the area and to assert their own political agenda. This delegate implied that helping refugees need not be politicized.
The delegate from Jordan elaborated to say that “desperation” is the driving factor behind their needing a “short-term solution.” A concrete solution, however, was not yet identified.
Other delegates maintained different points of view. Some believed that enforcing harsher background checks for the refugees is imperative for helping solve the problem. Still, the focus of CPD’s debate is “assessment of distribution and treatment of Syrian refugees” (Topic Guide). Altering the process behind background checks ostensibly does not provide much analysis of distribution and treatment—but perhaps these countries have a long-term solution that has yet to be revealed.
According to the delegate from Germany, two main blocs now have formed as debate has progressed. One composed of countries that include Russia, Ireland, and the UK hope to figure out a way to end the conflict in general, so refugees can return to Syria. Germany, however, hopes to “improve integration programs” for Syrian refugees.
Perhaps a necessary shift will occur in this committee’s discourse. A redirection toward concrete short and long term solutions in order to analyze effectively and improve the treatment of Syrian refugees will be immensely beneficial for the refugees themselves.