News / Middle East

UN: Syrian Refugee Exodus to Reach 700,000

A Syrian man, who fled his home due to government shelling, holds his son as they take refuge at Bab Al-Salameh crossing border, hoping to cross to one of the refugee camps in Turkey, near the Syrian town of Azaz, Sept. 12, 2012.
A Syrian man, who fled his home due to government shelling, holds his son as they take refuge at Bab Al-Salameh crossing border, hoping to cross to one of the refugee camps in Turkey, near the Syrian town of Azaz, Sept. 12, 2012.
Selah Hennessy
Up to 700,000 refugees could flee Syria by the end of the year, the U.N. refugee agency says, a huge increase from its previous forecast.

The UNHCR is appealing for $500 million in donor funding to cope with the basic needs of Syrian refugees pouring into Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Turkey.

Syrian Refugees by Country

  • Jordan: 94,454
  • Turkey: 87,774
  • Lebanon: 79,811
  • Iraq: 29,441

Source: UNHCR
The new forecast of 700,000 refugees is more than three times the last estimate made in August, when the agency predicted 185,000 people would flee Syria.

“This is not business as usual," said the agency’s regional co-coordinator for Syrian refugees, Panos Moumtzis, during a news briefing in Geneva.  "The early months of the crisis, we were responding with 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 in a week.  Now we have gone to 2,000 to 3,000 crossing on a daily basis.

"So it really is a completely different speed of emergency response, responding to the best of our ability to basically to provide the very, very minimum for people who arrive and flee and arrive in a traumatized state once they cross the border," he added.

Click to EnlargeClick to Enlarge
x
Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge
Moumtzis said nearly 300,000 Syrian refugees have left their country during the past 18 months of conflict.

Many, Moumtzis said, are arriving with only the clothes on their backs.  Some have been displaced many times before leaving Syria and are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance.

The situation is only going to become more challenging, he said.  "It is extremely important to be ready for the winter, and this plan includes rainfall shelter," he said.  "So winterized tents, caravans, special containers, in particular in Jordan, but also looking at clothing, looking at blankets, at heaters, kerosene, to provide everything possible to make sure that the Syrian refugees are ready to face the harsh winter months."

Most in tents

  • A Syrian girl, who fled her home with her family due to fighting between the Syrian army and the rebels, takes refuge at the Bab Al-Salameh border crossing, near the Syrian town of Azaz, Aug. 23, 2012.
  • Syrian refugees after the medical check at a Moroccan military field hospital in Zaatari refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan, Aug. 10, 2012.
  • A Syrian refugee boy carries toys, clothes and pocket money received by Muslim children on the first day of Eid al-Fitr holiday, at Zaatari Refugee Camp in Mafraq, Jordan, Aug. 19, 2012.
  • Syrian refugee children run while carrying traditional gifts of toys and clothes they received from individual donors and international organizations on the first day the Muslim holiday of Eid al- Fitr at the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Mafraq, Jordan, Aug. 1
  • Syrian refugees wait outside a clinic at Zaatari Syrian refugee camp, in Mafraq, Jordan, Aug. 16, 2012.
  • Syrian girl, Raghad Hussein, 3, who fled her home with her family due to fighting between the Syrian army and the rebels, stands by her family's makeshift tent, near Azaz, Syria, Aug. 26, 2012.
  • A Syrian girl, who fled her home with her family due to fighting between the Syrian army and the rebels, looks back while checking her laundry, near the Syrian town of Azaz, Aug. 26, 2012.
  • An elderly Syrian man, who fled his home due to fighting between the Syrian army and the rebels, 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, Aug. 23, 2012.
  • A Syrian girl, who fled her home with her family due to fighting between the Syrian army and the rebels, sleeps by her family's belongings, near the Syrian town of Azaz, Aug. 23, 2012.

UNHCR says half the Syrian refugee population is living in camps, mostly in tents.

One camp in Jordan that was opened two-months-ago hosts more than 30,000 Syrians.  Another camp in northern Iraq has more than 27,000.  In Turkey, almost 88,000 refugees live in 13 camps.

UNHCR spokesperson Sybella Wilkes said host countries are struggling to keep up.

“We were hearing today from Turkey," Wilkes said.  "They set up two new camps in the last two weeks - they are already full.  They were telling us it takes months to set up the camps and then they fill up in days.  So undoubtedly there is a tremendous strain on the host countries.”

Wilkes said donor money will go towards food distribution, child immunization, education, and shelter, including tents and financial assistance so that refugees can rent apartments.  She said large donor contributions have come from the European Union, the United States, and the Gulf States.

UNHCR reports that women and children make up 75 percent of the Syrian refugee population.

More violence

The call for aid follows what a Syrian rights group says was the bloodiest day since the 18-month conflict in Syria began.

Click to EnlargeClick to Enlarge
x
Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 people, mostly civilians, were killed Wednesday in Syria.

The group reported deaths in areas across the country, including Deir Ezzor, Homs, Hama, and in the capital, Damascus.  Its reports from witnesses inside the country cannot be confirmed because of restrictions on foreign media.

Syrian rebels detonated two suicide car bombs Wednesday at President Bashar al-Assad's heavily guarded army headquarters in Damascus, killing four security guards and sparking a gunbattle in which an Iranian journalist also died.

Information Minister Omran Zoubi blamed the attack on terrorists, a term the government uses for rebels opposed to Assad.

An Islamist militant group claimed responsibility for the attack, according to a statement posted on the Internet.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: sahani from: usa
September 28, 2012 8:31 AM
Todays all world problems are due to saudi arebia and its culture.
imagine saudi culture is removed from the 56 islamic nation. Things will be all right soon. JUst take away the saudis system of teachings.
UNited nations should know this by this time and make sure all refuses are send to saudi arebia for living.

by: Lewis Lauren from: China
September 28, 2012 3:13 AM
My heart goes out to those innocent refugees. They did nothing to deserve this. Looking at those pictures makes me realize how lucky I am that I have a warm bed to sleep in when I am tired, something to eat when I am hungry, a hospital to go when I am sick...

by: Vis8 from: NJ
September 27, 2012 10:21 AM
Obama and Hillary started, supported, financed and provided favorable media to the 'arab spring rebels' also known as jihadis.

Tell Obama to send trillions of our tax dollars as aid to these hooligans.

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