The Syrian Refugee Crisis and the Role of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)

The Syrian Refugee Crisis and the Role of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)

Zahid Shahab Ahmed (Deakin University, Australia)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2817-3.ch006
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Abstract

Following the Arab Spring, the Middle East is in chaos with ongoing wars in Yemen and Syria. There are millions of Syrians seeking refuge in neighboring countries like Turkey and Lebanon, and in European countries like Greece, Hungary, and Germany. Nonetheless, the largest proportion of Syrian refugees in hosted by neighboring countries needing continuous support of the international community. As the issue of Syrian refugees is transnational, there is a need to look for multilateral options for dealing with the crisis. Thus, the role of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) becomes crucial. Irrespective of being labelled as a ‘talk fest', there is no denying of the fact that OIC has significant potential for tackling grave challenges facing the Muslim world. The problems range from extremism and radicalization to poverty and illiteracy. Now there is the emergent challenge of refugees from the Middle Eastern crisis. This paper evaluates the role of OIC with reference to the Syrian refugee crisis in the Middle East and beyond.
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The Syrian Refugees

The Syrian Civil War is a multi-party armed conflict that was triggered by the turmoil of the 2011 Arab Spring. In this multi-party conflict, Iran, Russia, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah support the government of Bashar al-Assad. On the other side, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, France, Qatar, and the US support the opposition to the government. With the involvement of multiple stakeholders, it is natural for a conflict to grow out of proportion. This has been the case of the Syrian Civil War because, by the end of 2014, around 7.6 million Syrians were internally displaced and additional 3.7 million took refuge in other countries (Ostrand, 2015, p. 255). In October 2016, UNHCR reported more than 4.7 million Syrian refugees, including 2.9 million in neighbouring Muslim countries (UNHCR, 2016). This is in addition to a massive loss of human lives that keep on rising due to the increasing intensity of war. According to an estimate, 470,000 Syrians had died by February 2016 (Barnard, 2016). The sudden influx of Syrian refugees has placed enormous stress of resources in neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, and Turkey. Since 2013, there has been a rapid escalation in number of Syrians refugees, especially in neighbouring countries (See Table 1).

Table 1.
Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries
CountryNo. of Refugees
Turkey2,733,655
Lebanon1,033,513
Iraq225,455
Jordan656,400
Egypt116,175

Source: (UNHCR, 2016)

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