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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid