News / Middle East

UN Fears for Safety of Returning Syrian Refugees

Newly-arrived Syrian refugees carry their belongings upon their arrival to the new Jordanian-Emirati refugee camp, Mrajeeb al-Fhood, in Zarqa, Jordan, April 10, 2013.
Newly-arrived Syrian refugees carry their belongings upon their arrival to the new Jordanian-Emirati refugee camp, Mrajeeb al-Fhood, in Zarqa, Jordan, April 10, 2013.
Lisa Schlein
The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) is expressing alarm at the rising number of Syrian refugees it says are returning home from Jordan.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees spokesperson Melissa Fleming said Friday that since the beginning of April, around 3,000 refugees have crossed back into the Syrian province of Daraa from nearby Jordan.

Fleming said much of that area remains a battleground, and the agency fears for the safety of those returning.

Syrian Refugees by Country

Jordan: 421,547
Lebanon: 414,781
Turkey: 293,761
Iraq: 128,845
Egypt: 50,054

Source: UNHCR
“We are concerned that nothing is safe in Syria right now," she said.  "We are also concerned because in these areas there are extreme shortages of food.  There is lack of fuel, electricity and other services.  And, there are, of course, reports of artillery shells and mortars being fired into the villages that refugees are trying to reclaim.”
 
The U.N. says, however, that new arrivals to Jordan continue to outpace those going back to Syria.  An average of 2,000 people are crossing daily into Jordan, which is struggling to deal with the massive influx, the U.N. says.

Returnees face despair

But those electing to return from Jordan are joining hundreds of thousands in southern Syria who are short of basic staples like bread, a lack proper health care and access to education.

The reasons the refugees give for returning home are varied, Fleming said.

“They are hearing reports that there is improved security in their villages," she said.  "They are really interested, of course, in safeguarding their property.  There are family members they say they want to reunite with, and sometimes they travel actually to collect family members and bring them back into Jordan."  

Some 3,900 Syrian refugees in Iraq have returned mainly from Al Qaim camp in Anbar Province to Abu Kamal in Syria over the past year, Fleming said.  And she added that more than 97,000 Syrians have returned from Turkey since March 2011.

Influx continues

Still, neighboring countries, including Lebanon, are reaching their capacity in handling the influx of refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria.

Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told VOA that Lebanon has already taken in 400,000 refugees, a great burden for a country of 4 million people.

"No country can handle this kind of an influx," he said.  "I think Lebanon is at the brim of saying 'This is enough.'"

Earlier this week the UNHCR said the flow of aid to refugees in neighboring countries is falling short because it has only received $300 million of the $1 billion needed to handle the influx.

The agency said that Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq have taken in a combined total of 1.3 million Syrian refugees.

Fighting continued in several parts of the war-torn country on Friday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that military forces clashed with opposition rebels in Damascus, killing at least one civilian and injuring several others.

It said troops also carried out airstrikes in central Homs province, Daraa province in the south and in the northern city of Aleppo.
  • The Mbera refugee camp for Malian refugees, March 2, 2013. (Nyani Quarmyne/MSF)
  • A child sits atop a truck loaded with Malian refugees and their belongings on the edge of the M'Berra refugee camp in Mauritania, March 6, 2013. (Nyani Quarmyne/MSF)
  • Houmou Ag Mamili, who was registered as having arrived in the the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania in November, had still not received a tent on March 11, 2013. (Nyani Quarmyne/MSF)
  • A recently arrived refugee from Mali is helped to load her rations of rice, oil and sugar onto a pick-up at the M'Berra refugee camp for Malian refugees in southeastern Mauritania, March 2, 2013. (Nyani Quarmyne/MSF)
  • A structure used to store animal fodder at the Mbera refugee camp in southeastern Mauritania, March 1, 2013. (Nyani Quarmyne/MSF)

You May Like

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Rob Swift from: Great Britain
April 13, 2013 9:44 AM
Read Isaiah chapter 17 to learn the fate of Damascus. The problem is that the centre of conflict will move on, and then where will it end up? Meanwhile Mr Putin appears happy to keep it all under his wing rather than throw it over someone elses fence. Last time round the centre moved from Eden to here in Babylon. (Great Britain)


by: Dr. Afif Najef from: Iraq
April 12, 2013 1:39 PM
they are not going to "return" to Syria... and the suggestion that they will is a gross misunderstanding of Arab mentality. They will just squat where they are and breed... and soon they will destabilize the host country.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
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.


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