UNHCR Representative in Cyprus Damtew Dessalegne on Wednesday called on people from all walks of life to contribute to a Europe-wide campaign to help refugees from battle-torn Syria.
Dessalegne made the statements during a European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), Future Worlds Centre and KISA event on the 'Europe Act Now- www.helpsyriasrefugees.eu ' campaign calling on European leaders to protect refugees fleeing the Syrian war.
The European Council of Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) together with over 100 partners in 34 countries launched Europe Act Now (www.helpsyriasrefugees.eu
) on March 6, noting that to date, just 81,000 Syrians have sought protection in the EU, Norway and Switzerland - representing only 3% of the total number of people who have fled.
Addressing yesterday's launch, Dessalegne said: "The scale and gravity of the humanitarian crisis posed by the Syrian civil war is perhaps the most acute since the end of the Second World War."
Dessalegne said children were the hardest hit with close to 5.5 million affected in Syria and its neighbouring countries.
"An entire generation of young Syrians is being shaped by violence, displacement, lack of education, separation from families and trauma. With every day the fighting goes on, these children are at real risk of losing their future forever."
Noting that Syria's neighbours Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt had already recently seen "an unrelenting stream of refugees at an enormous cost to themselves", far fewer had made their way to Europe.
"The share of Cyprus for the three -year period was 1,308 applications of 1.7% of the EU intake. The numbers, for both the EU as a whole and Cyprus, are of course not small in absolute terms, but they represent a very tiny fraction of the over 2.5 million Syrian refugees hosted by the five countries neighbouring Syria."
Dessalegne encouraged people from all walks of life in Cyprus to actively engage in the campaign.
"We invite politicians, the media, civil society organisations, activist, celebrities, religious leaders, students and others to get involved in the campaign in one way or another and show solidarity with the survivors of this horrific conflict."
At www.helpsyriasrefugees.eu people can 'give their voice' to Syria's refugees and urge Europe's leaders to take action to give refugees a safe way into Europe, stop pushbacks and protect refugees arriving at Europe's borders, an reunite families torn apart by the crisis.
'Europe Act Now' allows supporters of the campaign to donate their Twitter feed and Facebook account to the refugees of the Syrian crisis. The refugees can share their experiences of fleeing the conflict and attempting to seek protection in Europe with the supporters' followers and friends.
People can also give their voice to protect Syria's refugees by signing the Europe Act Now petition.
Europe Act Now - Help Syria's Refugees will run for a period of four months, culminating on World Refugee Day, June 20.