Prime Minister David Cameron visited Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan, pledging further aid to accommodate within the region those fleeing the violence and urged other countries to follow suit.
Cameron’s visit comes as Europe grapples with how best to deal with the large numbers of Syrians fleeing to the continent. Although the UK will not be part of a European Union resettlement plan under discussion, Cameron said last week that 20,000 Syrian refugees would be welcomed to Britain during the coming five years.
By visiting Jordan and Lebanon though, Cameron underscored the importance of housing Syrian refugees closer to home. He flew first to a refugee camp in Lebanon before flying by helicopter to the Zata’ari Camp in Jordan, where he said, “It is so important to help keep people close to their homes, clothe them, feed them and house them so they don’t take the perilous journey across the seas which has led to such appalling losses of life.”
Cameron announced an extra £100 million in aid to help countries in the region house Syrian refugees, with £29 million earmarked for Lebanon. The United Nations says that 1 in 4 people in Lebanon is a refugee, with at least 620,000 refugees in Jordan. Cameron highlighted the “direct connection” between inadequate provision for Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries and the influx of those seeking to reach Europe. He added, “I would encourage others to step up to the plate and spend and invest in the way Britain has done.”
Cameron discussed the situation in Syria, the threat of ISIS and regional instability last week with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a visit to London. Israel and Jordan are thought to cooperate closely on the potential threat of ISIS and the consequences of a power vacuum in Syria. Meanwhile, since the Syrian Civil War began Israel has treated around 1,800 Syrian casualties who have arrived at the Israeli border with Syria.