News / Middle East

    UN Refugee Agency Says Qusair Refugees 'Traumatized'

     In this Sunday, March 11, 2012 file photo, a man carries a boy who was severely wounded during heavy fighting between Syrian rebels and Syrian Army forces in Idlib, north Syria.
    In this Sunday, March 11, 2012 file photo, a man carries a boy who was severely wounded during heavy fighting between Syrian rebels and Syrian Army forces in Idlib, north Syria.
    Lisa Schlein
    The UNHCR says many people who had been trapped by fighting in the besieged city of al-Qusair are now taking to the road and are fleeing to Lebanon.

    Agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming says the battle in and around Qusair has displaced a lot of people, and many of those arriving in Lebanon are traumatized.

    "Families we spoke to describe a city reduced to rubble, devoid of any civilians and also any combatants.  One man who spoke to us told us there was absolutely no food in the town and no water.  He said people were resorting to squeezing water from the leaves of trees for nourishment.  So, no wonder people are also trying to escape.  During the fighting they were fleeing to fields, and the route into Lebanon has been described as also very dangerous," said Fleming.

    Syrian Refugees by Country

    Lebanon: 545,795
    Jordan: 478,007
    Turkey: 386,927
    Iraq: 158,663
    Egypt: 81,487

    Source: UNHCR
    The UNHCR reports hundreds of wounded people have arrived in Lebanon, including 60 children.  Lebanon does not have refugee camps.  So, many refugees are living with friends and relatives.  Those who have no place to stay are living wherever they can find a place.

    Fleming says Syrian refugees are living in makeshift accommodations in 1,400 towns across Lebanon.  She says people there are poor and the influx of refugees is straining the resources of these communities.  She says the UNHCR is assisting them, but it is difficult.

    "Our strategy in Lebanon, particularly in the area of shelter, is to continue to work with the communities to allow for this kind of refugee settlement.  We believe that particularly in Lebanon that this is the best option -- to have refugees living in the communities.  We have a program whereby people living in other peoples homes - and most of them do get their homes refurbished.  So, not only do the refugees benefit, but also the people who are hosting them," she said.  

    Worldwide Refugee Figures for 2012

    • 7.6 million people were displaced
    • 23,000 persons per day were forced to leave their homes
    • 35.8 million people were protected by the UNHCR
    • More than half the world's refugees came from Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria and Sudan
    • Women and girls accounted for 48% of the refugee population
    Fleming says Arsal, a town in the Beka'a Valley, is the first destination for refugees fleeing from Qusair.  She says it is difficult to get an exact number of new arrivals because most of the families immediately depart with relatives to other areas in Lebanon.  

    Fleming says the UNHCR will begin registering new arrivals on Monday.  This, in turn, should provide a clearer picture of the exact number of refugees in need of assistance.

    The refugee agency also said that it has managed to get nine trucks of humanitarian assistance into the northern city of al-Raqqa, which has been cut off from humanitarian assistance for three months and reportedly is in a dire situation.

    The UNHCR says it also has been successful in beginning a cash distribution program in Tartous, a city on the coast, to hundreds of displaced families that have fled from Aleppo.  It says it has dispensed cash vouchers of $150 to more than 3,200 displaced people and hopes to assist several thousands more vulnerable people in the near future.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora