The British government has announced it will take in 20,000 refugees from camps in Syria and its neighbouring states.

While David Cameron insists the government is pulling its weight, both in terms of the quota being taken in over the course of the next five years as well as in the amount of money Britain spends in foreign aid, there are still hundreds of thousands of displaced people already in Europe and need of desperate help.

The United Nations high commissioner for refugees said on Saturday at the UNHCR headquarters in Geneva that the world had waited far too long to respond to the refugee crisis unfurling in the Middle East.

Antonio Guterres told Reuters "Only when the poor enter the halls of the rich, do the rich notice that the poor exist".

For years Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan have endeavored to cope with millions of refugees escaping war-torn Syria, while the sudden arrival of tens of thousands in Europe has caused tension among EU nations over how to accommodate those in need of help.

Unfortunately only when the poor enter the halls of the rich, do the rich notice that the poor exist. Until we had this massive movement into Europe, there was no recognition of how serious the crisis was.

If, in the past, we had more massive support to those countries in the developing world that have been receiving them and protecting them, this would not have happened.

The refugees are living worse and worse. They're not allowed to work, the overwhelming majority of them live below the poverty line. It's more and more difficult for them to have any hope in the future.

Without peace in Syria, and without massive support to the neighbouring countries... we risk a massive exodus.

I think political leaders are starting to understand... the scale of the problem and the need to have a much stronger response in humanitarian aid.

One of the reasons that refugees started to move in such big numbers was because international assistance declined.

Cartoon: Rafat al-Khateeb
Keep reading...Show less
Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)