News / Middle East

UN Reports 1.3 Million Syrian Refugees

Syrian refugees filling their buckets at Atmeh refugee camp, in the northern Syrian province of Idlib, Syria, Apr. 5, 2013
Syrian refugees filling their buckets at Atmeh refugee camp, in the northern Syrian province of Idlib, Syria, Apr. 5, 2013
Lisa Schlein
The U.N. refugee agency reports more than 1.3 million Syrian refugees have now fled to neighboring countries. The UNHCR warns this number could triple by the end of the year if a political solution to the conflict in Syria is not found.

The U.N. refugee agency says the deteriorating situation inside Syria is causing an average of 8,000 people a day to flee into neighboring countries in fear of their lives.

The agency's Syria Regional Refugee Coordinator, Panos Moumtzis, says this massive outflow of people has boosted the number of refugees registered in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq to 1.3 million.  He notes this figure does not take into account those people who have not registered, so the actual number of refugees in these countries is much higher.

“This is a significant increase if you think that today one year ago, 12 months ago, the actual figure was 30,000. So, in 12 months, we have gone from 30,000 Syrian refugees to 1 million, 300,000.  The 1 million, 300,000 represents 120 percent of the planning assumption figure we had taken and hoped, thought would reach by June 2013.  We had planned to help 1 million, 100,000 by June and we already are at 1 million, 300,000," Moumtzis explained. "Three quarters of the refugees who have fled continue to be women and children.”

  • Buildings destroyed in a government airstrike and shelling, in Marjeh in Aleppo, Syria, April, 11, 2013. (AMC)
  • A Syrian Army officer briefs his men to prepare for an offensive in Aleppo's Liramoun area, April 11, 2013.
  • Damaged mosques and properties activists said were hit by shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in Daraa, April 10, 2013.
  • A Syrian rebel monitors the movement of Syrian government forces in the Sheikh Maqsud district of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, on April 11, 2013.
  • A man walks amid destruction in Aleppo, April 10, 2013.
  • A view of the new Mrigeb al-Fuhud refugee camp near Zarqa, Jordan.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters walk along a street lined with damaged shops and buildings in Deir al-Zor, April 8, 2013.
  • Smoke rises after a huge explosion shook the Sabaa Bahrat Square in Damascus, April 8, 2013.
  • Rescue teams recover bodies from the scene of a car bomb explosion which rocked central Damascus on April 8, 2013.

While the number of refugees continues to increase, the money available to assist them is not. The UNHCR says it only has received one third of the $1 billion it needs to care for the Syrian refugees until June.

Despite the lack of cash, Moumtzis says U.N. aid agencies have been scaling up assistance since January. He says they have expanded staff, health services, food, water, sanitation, shelter and educational programs. “While we have put in place relief services and relief operations on a 24/7 basis - we have relief workers going to work at night as well as the day because the refugees cross borders every day - we fear that we may not be able to continue the operations unless funding comes urgently," he said. "We are at a breaking point.”

Moumtzis says U.N. aid agencies already have cut life-saving services to the bone and he does not know how much is left to cut.  He notes that the refugee camps are overcrowded and new camps have to be built.

Of the $1.5 billion pledged at a conference in Kuwait earlier this year, he says only $400 million has been received.  He says the traditional Western donors have honored their pledges but the United Nations is still waiting for the $1 billion pledged by the Gulf Arab states.

You May Like

Video Getting to Zero AIDS Infections

More than 35 million people around the world are infected with HIV, a disease that is both preventable and treatable

Children, Childhoods Lost in European Refugee Crisis

According to UNICEF, 190,000 children applied for political asylum in Europe in the first 9 months of this year - twice as many as last year

What Happened When I Landed in Antarctica

Refael Klein chronicles what it's like to visit one of the coldest, most desolate places on Earth

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
April 09, 2013 1:18 PM
The civilians in/outside Syria continue to endure horrific conditions, it appears that the internal situation, in Syria, is still getting worse; a month ago it was hard to imagine it could get worse. It is appalling to hear that the money commmitted to the UN, for this critical relief work, has not been received. Maybe? the UN Security Council, the Secretary General,

in conjuction with the Arab League, can appoint a Muslim person of prominence, like a Saudi Royal, to help with the liason work in collecting the pledged donations for the Syrian refugees. It is bad enough that the world has not been able to stop the war, but now to be running out of resources, for critical relief work, it will make the situation undescribable. I hope the pledged money materializes soon, and somehow this terrible war comes to an end.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs