Jordan: Syria's neighbors risk 'host-country fatigue'

BERLIN: Syria's neighbors are approaching "host-country fatigue" because of huge demand from refugees for housing, schools, jobs and healthcare and scant resources like water, Jordan's foreign minister said.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (R) chats with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh

Lebanon and Turkey echoed that message at an international conference in Berlin on what U.N. refugee chief Antonio Guterres called "the most dramatic humanitarian crisis the world has faced in a very long time."

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, whose country has led the way in Europe by taking in 70,000 refugees and giving nearly 650 million euros in aid, said international efforts to stop ISIS' "murderous rampage" would fail without a parallel solution for the growing refugee problem.

"We are approaching host-country fatigue in which the limit of our ability to address the needs of Syrian refugees is being tested and has already been reached," said Jordan's Nasser Judeh, adding that his country alone hosts 1.5 million Syrian refugees and economic migrants.

Steinmeier praised the generosity of neighboring states for sheltering more than three million people who have fled Syria in a 3 1/2-year civil war that has killed nearly 200,000 people. But he said simply providing the basics was not enough.

"Hopelessness and despair make people vulnerable to radicalisation and manipulation. This is a real threat as half of the refugees are children and teenagers," he said. "We must ensure that these people have a chance to receive an education."

Ministers from those countries appeared unconvinced that the broader international community is playing its part.

"The neighboring countries, including Turkey, have to date had to shoulder an unfair share of the humanitarian burden resulting from the conflict in Syria," said Naci Koru, deputy foreign minister of Turkey, which has taken in more than 1.6 million Syrian refugees so far, at a cost of $4 billion.

"The contribution that we have received from the international community - only $250 million - has fallen significantly short of our expectations," he said.

With ISIS posing a threat to an expanse of territory inside Syria that is home to about 5 million people, "we are faced with the risk of further humanitarian disasters and continued large-scale movements of Syrians towards our borders", Koru added.

Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam said a "daily tragedy" was affecting refugees and the impoverished communities hosting them, while Jordan's Judeh said donors must significantly raise funding to avoid "friction and social tensions" arising.

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