German vice chancellor calls for more refugee aid in Mideast

Xinhua / MGN

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) – Germany’s vice chancellor began a two-day visit to Jordan on Monday, after urging the international community to increase aid to desperate Syrian refugees in the kingdom and other regional host countries to slow their migration to Europe.

Sigmar Gabriel said the situation for refugees in host countries bordering Syria is “dramatically bad” and that wealthy Gulf states and the United States, among others, could do much more to help.

His Jordan trip comes ahead of two emergency meetings this week of a deeply divided European Union on how to deal with the influx.

More than 4 million Syrians have fled civil war in their homeland since 2011, most settling in nearby Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. Growing numbers have left these countries for Europe or returned to Syria in recent months because of cuts in food and cash aid.

Aid agencies have requested $7.4 billion for the Syria crisis for 2015, but so far received only 38 percent.

Speaking before his departure to Jordan, Gabriel said that it’s a priority to “stabilize the situation in the refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.”

The situation there “is dramatically bad and for this we need help,” he told German TV on Sunday.

“But we are the only ones who pay,” he added. “The Gulf states are not paying, the United States – which bears some responsibility for the chaos in the Middle East – should also help.”

Some 500,000 refugees and migrants have come to Europe this year, most through Italy and Greece, and Syrian refugees make up a large number of the new arrivals. Germany is a favored destination, with officials predicting as many as 1 million newcomers in all of 2015.

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