News / Middle East

Numbers of Syrian Refugees Strain Neighboring Countries

Syrians, who fled their homes due to fighting between the Syrian army and the rebels, shout slogans as they march toward the Turkish side of the border, August 28, 2012
Syrians, who fled their homes due to fighting between the Syrian army and the rebels, shout slogans as they march toward the Turkish side of the border, August 28, 2012
TEXT SIZE - +
Dorian JonesLisa Schlein
ISTANBUL, GENEVA — The United Nations refugee agency says the number of Syrians fleeing to neighboring countries is swelling, signaling what could be an impending mass movement and a regional crisis.

In Jordan, 10,200 refugees arrived during the past week, twice as many as the week before.  Jordan was already providing shelter to an estimated 150,000 Syrians.

Spokeswoman Melissa Fleming of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees says the new arrivals at the Za'atri camp in northern Jordan are mainly from Syria's southern flashpoint area of Daraa.  She says refugees reported "being bombed as they were trying to cross" the border.

"We do believe that this could be the start of a much larger influx into Jordan," she said. "People coming across, disturbingly, especially last Friday, are reported being bombed as they were trying to cross."

The U.N. agency also says up to 200,000 Syrians could flee to Turkey if the conflict continues to deepen.  More than 3,000 fled to Turkey in the past 24 hours alone.

According to reports, as many as 10,000 Syrians are waiting at the Turkish border as authorities struggle to process and find shelter for them in Turkey's increasingly over-stretched refugee camps.

Turkey appeals for help

Despite new camps hastily being constructed, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Monday made an international appeal for help.

Davutoglu said Turkey is carrying out its humanitarian duties toward the Syrian people with whom it has historic brotherly ties. On the other hand, he said, the increasing numbers are becoming a burden that the international community must help share.
 
With fighting intensifying between Syria's government and rebels, the number of Syrians fleeing to Turkey has doubled in recent months to 80,000.

Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal says a solution to the crisis has to be found within Syria's borders.

"The U.N. or the international community should think or should look into ways of finding a secure environment for the Syrian people on the Syrian side of the territory," Unal said.

Ankara has been lobbying for the creation of safe haven areas, or a no-fly zone, for months. Despite having the largest and best equipped army in the region, Ankara is loathe to intervene unilaterally says Semih Idiz, diplomatic correspondent for the Turkish newspaper Milliyet.  

"Most Turks consider Turkish intervention would be a quagmire, because it is very likely that this intervention on part of Turkey would require a major military component and there would no public support for Turkey to go unilaterally," Idiz said.
 
Crisis to worsen

As the refugee crisis is predicted to worsen regionally, concern is growing for young Syrian refugees.

A spokesman for the United Nations Children's Fund, Patrick McCormick, says it is not unusual to have growing numbers of unaccompanied refugee children in time of war.

McCormick said children often are separated from their families while fleeing to another country.  Sometimes parents send them away on their own for reasons of safety.  

He says UNICEF has a program in place in Jordan to try to find and reunite unaccompanied children with their parents.

In the meantime, he says the agency has established so-called friendly spaces where children can be looked after and are protected.

"They have suffered a lot of trauma and the best way for them to survive this period is to be in a safe place where there are things that they can do while they wait and hope that we can find their parents, relatives, families," McCormick said.  

Damascus bombing

In ongoing violence, Syrian state television reported that 12 people were killed and nearly 50 wounded in a car bomb explosion at a funeral on the outskirts of Damascus.

The blast took place in the Druze and Christian suburb of Jaramana.  An activist group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the funeral was being held for two government supporters killed in a bomb attack on Monday.

In Tehran, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad told reporters at a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement that member nations have condemned sanctions imposed against Syria by the West and some other countries.  He also warned countries not to support Syrian rebels, who he called "terrorists."

"Any support by any foreign country of the terrorists in Syria is absolutely condemned, and we tell them that once you support terrorism in Syria it will come back to your own country," Mekdad said.

Leaflets dropped

Meanwhile, The Associated Press reported that Syrian military helicopters dropped thousands of leaflets over Damascus and its suburbs Tuesday, urging rebels to hand over their weapons or be killed.

The AP said some of the leaflets read "The Syrian army is determined to cleanse every inch in Syria and you have only two choices: abandon your weapons ... or face inevitable death.''

Syrian authorities blame the 17-month uprising on a foreign conspiracy and accuse oil-rich Gulf countries Saudi Arabia and Qatar, in addition to the United States and Turkey, of backing "terrorists" seeking to oust the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Jones reported from Istanbul, Schlein reported from Geneva. 

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Dr. Malek Towghi/Tauqee from: USA
August 28, 2012 3:59 PM
The tall-talking France should take all the Syrian refugees.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid