Massive Syrian Refugee Crisis Visible From Space

Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, March 2013. Click to explore. Image © DigitalGlobe 2013 © Google Earth

Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, March 2013. Click to explore. Image © DigitalGlobe 2013 © Google Earth

The massive displacement crisis stemming from Syria’s ongoing conflict is increasingly visible from space. Satellite images on Google Earth reveal the growth of what in some cases looks like the emergence of whole new cities over the last two years.

A new project published today by one of our volunteers, Richard Cozzens, presents some of the most compelling images, providing a grim snapshot of the dire humanitarian situation in and around Syria. The satellite images show camps in the countries that are most affected by the influx of refugees, such as Turkey and Jordan. For example, what was an empty spot in the desert in September 2011 is now the huge refugee camp Zaatari in Jordan.

Despite this visibility, too many are closing their eyes: ”European leaders should hang their heads with shame over the pitifully low numbers of refugees from Syria they are prepared to resettle” states a new briefing published by Amnesty International last week.

The briefing, An international failure: The Syrian refugee crisis, details how European Union (EU) member states have only offered to open their doors to around 12,000 of the most vulnerable refugees from Syria: just 0.5 per cent of the 2.3 million people who have fled the country.

The numbers speak for themselves:

  • Only 10 EU member states offered resettlement or humanitarian admission places to refugees from Syria.
  • Germany is by far the most generous – pledging to take 10,000 refugees or 80 per cent of total EU pledges.
  • Excluding Germany, the remaining 27 EU member states have offered to take a mere 2,340 refugees from Syria.
  • France offered just 500 places or 0.02 per cent of the total number of people who have fled Syria.
  • Spain agreed to take just 30 or 0.001 per cent of refugees from Syria.
  • Eighteen EU member states – including the UK and Italy – offered no places at all.

EU member states should stop their inaction and significantly increase the number of resettlement and humanitarian admission places for refugees from Syria.

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