News / Middle East

Millions in Syria Have Fled Homes

A Syrian girl who fled with her family from the violence in their village, carries a plastic container over her head as she walks to fill it with water at a displaced camp, in the Syrian village of Atma, near the Turkish border with Syria, November 10, 20
A Syrian girl who fled with her family from the violence in their village, carries a plastic container over her head as she walks to fill it with water at a displaced camp, in the Syrian village of Atma, near the Turkish border with Syria, November 10, 20
Lisa Schlein
The Syrian Arab Red Crescent estimates 2.5 million people inside Syria have fled their homes and are in need of humanitarian assistance. The United Nations says the number of displaced could rise to four million people.

The Syrian Arab Red Crescent is able to move around Syria more freely than other aid organizations, gaining greater access to people caught in areas of combat.

United Nations refugee spokeswoman Melissa Fleming says the Red Crescent believes its estimate of 2.5 million Syrians who have fled their homes is conservative and that the number of people in need of assistance is probably higher.

Fleming says five percent of them are living in schools and other public places.  The rest are living with families.

“When they are absorbed in families, it is much more difficult to count and specifically in the Syrian situation," she said.  "We have so many accounts from refugees who have come across borders who were previously internally displaced. They were internally displaced several times before they became refugees  So, the people are moving.  The people are really on the run, hiding and difficult to count and difficult to access.” 

  • Syrian refugees try to cross the border fence from the northern Syrian town of Ras al-Ain into Turkey during an air strike on Ras al-Ain, in the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, Turkey, November 13, 2012.
  • Newly arrived Syrian refugees are seen at Ceylanpinar refugee camp, Sanliurfa province, Turkey, November 10, 2012.
  • A Syrian girl who fled with her family carries a plastic container over her head as she walks to fill it with water at a displaced camp in the Syrian village Atma, near the Turkish border with Syria, November 10, 2012.
  • People from the northern Syrian town Ras al-Ain attempt to cross into Turkey, as seen from the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, November 13, 2012.
  • A Syrian family who fled from violence sits next to their belongings at a displaced camp in the Syrian village Atma, near the Turkish border with Syria, November 7, 2012.
  • A Syrian baby cries as he lays on a swing attached to a tree at a camp in the Syrian village Atma, near the Turkish border with Syria, November 5, 2012.
  • A Syrian boy, who fled his home with his family due to fighting between government forces and rebels, plays near his tent at a refugee camp near the Turkish border, Azaz, Syria, October 7, 2012.
  • A Turkish police officer checks identification cards of Syrian men after they crossed from Syria to Turkey at the Akcakale border gate, October 4, 2012.
  • A Syrian man, who fled his home due to government shelling, holds his son at Bab Al-Salameh border crossing, hoping to cross to a refugee camps in Turkey, near the Syrian town Azaz, September 12, 2012.
  • An elderly Syrian man, who fled his home due to fighting, takes refuge at the Bab Al-Salameh border crossing, in hopes of entering one of the refugee camps in Turkey, near the Syrian town of Azaz, August 23, 2012.
  • A Syrian girl, who fled her home with her family due to violence, looks back while checking her laundry, at the Bab Al-Salameh border crossing near the Syrian town of Azaz, August 26, 2012.
  • Syrian refugees walk through the Dumez refugee camp in Dahuk, northwest of Baghdad, Iraq, August 13, 2012.

The United Nations refugee agency has some 350 staff in Syria, working in Damascus, Aleppo and Hassakeh. Fleming says the UNHCR is trying to provide aid to up to one-half million people inside Syria by the end of the year. 

She says recent disruptions to operations due to insecurity are hampering these efforts.  Over the past few weeks, she says the agency has lost aid supplies due to shelling and other problems. In addition, a truck carrying 600 blankets was hijacked on its way to Adra, outside Damascus.

She says staff working in Aleppo also has experienced difficulties.  And, she says the UNHCR has been forced to temporarily withdraw staff from northeastern Hassakeh governorate because of a worsening security situation. 

“We have temporarily withdrawn five staff and seven staff remain," said Fleming. "Hopefully, we can bring them back very soon and hopefully we can continue our operations.  We work also very closely there with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent who continues to serve the people extremely well and to help us aid organizations who have goods and cannot access Syrians in some places. It really steps in to serve as our delivery mechanism.”

Despite these setbacks, Fleming says progress is being made.  On Monday, she says the UNHCR was able to deliver thousands of mattresses and hundreds of hygiene kits to Aleppo, Hassakeh and Adra.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More