The sight of Syrian refugees sleeping rough at the railway station in a village near Srebrenica, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, reminds the Srebrenica survivors of what it means to be forced out of their homes, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported on Monday.
Thousands of survivors of the 1995 genocide in Srebrenica and other families were internally displaced by the 1992-95 war. Similarly, Syrians have been forced to become refugees by their country’s civil war, with many using the Balkan route into Europe since 2015.
As of March 2018, the UNHCR counted nearly 5.6 million registered Syrian refugees worldwide. There were one million asylum applications by Syrian refugees in the European Union alone.
Greece remains the main gateway to northern Europe for nearly a million migrants and refugees from war-torn and poverty-stricken countries in the Middle East and Africa. Refugee flows to Greece have risen by 200 per cent in the past five months, mainly due to conditions in Syria.
Last month, a senior UN aid official said that civilians must be spared in any Turkish military operation in north-east Syria. The international organisation hopes that mass displacement and Srebrenica-like killings can be prevented.
The UN’s deputy regional humanitarian coordinator for Syria, Mark Cutts, told the Financial Times on Sunday that 1,200 truckloads of emergency supplies were sent across the border into Idlib, a city in north-west Syria, in January but the scale of the crisis meant that it was simply not enough.
The UN said last week that 800,000 people have now been displaced, with at least 60 per cent of them being children.
In all, the 1992-95 war in Bosnia left about 100,000 dead and drove more than 2 million from their homes. In Syria’s civil war, more than 380,000 people have been killed since the conflict broke out almost 9 years ago with a brutal crackdown by the regime on anti-government protesters.