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

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa 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.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid