Rich nations urged to resettle more Syrian refugees to save lives

People walk as they gather to be evacuated from a rebel-held sector of eastern Aleppo, Syria December 15, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail

By Umberto Bacchi LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Less than three percent of Syrians who fled the civil war crossing into a neighbouring state have been resettled to a rich country, a charity said on Thursday, urging wealthy nations to take in a more equitable share of refugees. Nearly 5 million Syrians uprooted by fighting are hosted in just a handful of bordering countries, including Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, according to U.N. data. Their presence has strained public services in host nations, which in some cases already faced high unemployment and poverty rates, but developed countries have done little to ease the burden, British charity Oxfam said in a report. Oxfam said 130,701 Syrian refugees have been relocated since 2013, under resettlement programmes from Syria's neighbours to one of 28 rich nations analysed in the study. The figure did not take into account Syrians who reached Italy, Greece or other destinations on their own often embarking in perilous journeys by sea. "The UK and other rich countries need to do more to help people forced to flee the almost six year war in Syria," Oxfam Chief Executive Mark Goldring said in a statement. Only Australia, Canada, Germany and Norway had resettled more than their "fair share" of Syrian refugees when considering the size of their economy, the report said. Canada, for example, resettled about 35,000 Syrians in the last year compared to Britain which resettled 3,000, it said. Increasing resettlements could save hundreds of lives providing Syrian refugees with a safe route to Europe, Oxfam said. Almost 12,000 migrants and asylum seekers have died while attempting to cross the Mediterranean via boat in the past three years, according to the International Organization for Migration. (Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Astrid Zweynert. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit