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
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

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

1 Billion People Used Facebook on Single Day

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised the accomplishment in a posting on the social media site 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs