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UNCHR Hosts International Conference on Syrian Refugees

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The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) hosted a one-day conference in Geneva with high-level officials to address the Syrian conflict crisis.

In a statement made during the conference, UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon noted that "We are here to address the biggest refugee and displacement crisis of our time...This demands an exponential increase in global solidarity."

92 countries in attendance

The conference was attended by 92 countries, and representatives were present from both governmental and nongovernmental organizations. UNHCR's High Commissioner Filippo Grandi hosted the conference and urged that everyone needed to share in the responsibility of caring for the refugees; the burden should not fall only on the neighboring nations like Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.

Since the crisis began, approximately 4.5 million refugees have fled Syria, while more than 6 million have been displaced internally. The UN Secretary General also acknowledged that ending the conflict would be the best way to help Syrians, but also noted that until that was accomplished, the refugees and the nations in the surrounding area were facing a desperate situation.

In February, at a conference in London regarding the Syrian crisis, donors pledged $US12 billion to help people and host communities in need, including those within Syria and the surrounding areas.  Ki-moon said those who pledged the money need to honor their pledges, but he believes "All countries can do more."

Focus on resettlement programs

Grandi noted that in just 4 months time, a program between Canada and the UNCHR screened, selected, and prepared over 26,000 of the refugees for resettlement. He believes this is possible if nations are more flexible and open to other pathways.

Much of the conference focused on expanding multi-year resettlement programs and working to incorporate countries, that until now, were previously uninvolved in assisting during such crises.

As a result of the conference, it is expected that more pledges and admission locations will be coming this week, but officials fear it will be nowhere near the number needed in the coming months as the crisis in Syria continues.

Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.