Print options

October 07, 2012

Aid Workers Struggle to Cope with Syrian Refugee Influx

by Scott Bobb

Humanitarian agencies are struggling to cope with an upsurge of refugees from Syria caused primarily by aerial bombardments of the civilian population. The United Nations says the number of Syrian refugees is likely to triple to 700,000 by the end of the year.
 
Early afternoon at the Bab al-Salama Camp on the Syrian side of the Turkish border. Aid workers are distributing food to people waiting to become refugees in Turkey.
 
The Turkish government is already providing for 100,000 Syrian refugees. Its camps are full. It is building new camps but says it can only admit refugees when it has room for them.
 
Refugees here may wait more than one month before they are allowed into Turkey. Turkish humanitarian groups struggle to keep up with the demand for food, water and shelter.
 
Sarken Oktem, the coordinator for Turkey's Foundation for Human Rights, Freedom and Humanitarian Relief, says this is increasingly hard to do. "We have about 6,500 people here. For every 500 people we send to Turkey, 1,000 more come in," he said. 
 
He says sanitation is becoming a major problem. There is an outbreak of diarrhea because of contaminated water. 
 
Others worry that the food aid is not providing enough nutrition to the people.
 
Abdelkader Kaptur, with a Syrian relief group, says they have not had milk for the camp's babies in the past 11 days. “We worry most about the food because there is not enough of it. And now winter is coming and it's cold and you see people without covers and some are sleeping on the ground," he said. 
 
The United Nations has appealed for one half billion dollars for Syria's refugees. To date only a fraction of that has arrived.
 
Sebastian Meyer in Bab Al-Salama Camp, Syria, contributed to this report.