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

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.