News / Middle East

UN: Peacekeepers Taken in Syria Are Safe

Syrian refugees, fleeing the recent fighting in Arsal, wait by trucks in the Bekaa valley, near the Lebanese border with Syria, Aug. 8, 2014.
Syrian refugees, fleeing the recent fighting in Arsal, wait by trucks in the Bekaa valley, near the Lebanese border with Syria, Aug. 8, 2014.
Lisa Schlein

The United Nations says 44 peacekeepers taken from their post on the Syria-Israel border a day earlier were removed "for their own protection."

The U.N. said Friday it has received assurances from credible sources that the peacekeepers are "safe and in good health" and that "the intention behind those holding the peacekeepers was to remove them from an active battlefield."

The name of the group holding the soldiers has not been released.

Earlier media reports indicated involvement by the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front.

The international organization has not made direct contact with the soldiers, who are nationals of Fiji serving on the U.N.'s Disengagement Observer Force [UNDOF] in the Golan Heights.

The U.N. also said Friday that 72 Philippine peacekeepers who were confined to their two camps by an unnamed group on Thursday are unharmed.

The Philippine government announced last week its 331 troops in the Golan Heights would be removed at the end of their tour of duty in October, amid worsening security conditions.

UNDOF has patrolled the disputed area since 1974.

Surge of refugees

More than three years of civil war in Syria has forced three million people to flee their homeland, and the fighting is only intensifying, the U.N. refugee agency said Friday.

The United Nations High Commission on Refugees said the flight from Syria has created the world's largest population of refugees under that U.N. agency's care.

The Syrian crisis is ”the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era,” the agency said.

Syria refugees - August, 29, 2014Syria refugees - August, 29, 2014
x
Syria refugees - August, 29, 2014
Syria refugees - August, 29, 2014

Speaking in Geneva, UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said refugees fleeing to neighboring countries are arriving exhausted, frightened and broke. Most people have been on the run for a year or more - taking shelter in one village after another until they driven to leave the country entirely.

There are also worrying signs that escaping Syria is becoming more difficult for refugees, with many being forced to bribe armed soldiers at makeshift border checkpoints.

"And many have to resort to transport using smugglers in order to get out - is becoming very steep," she said. "It may not sound like a lot: around $100 per person, in many cases more. But for Syrians now who have had no work for many years, this is absolutely, hugely expensive.”  

The vast majority of refugees are in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, and their numbers are straining those nations' economies. A recent UNHCR survey found more than four in five Syrian emigres living outside refugee camps, struggling to make a living in towns and cities. More than a third live in sub-standard shelters.

Lebanon continues to keep its borders open; Jordan and Turkey screen Syrian refugees before admitting them, because of security concerns.  

Iraq's central government, meanwhile, has lost control of a large portion of its territory to militants from the Islamic State group and other extremists, so its border is now closed to Syrian refugees. More than a third of Iraq, including Anbar province, is now in the hands of extremist forces, the U.N. estimated.

She also said about 300 Syrians are actually returning to Syria every day, due to the Iraqi violence.

"So this gives you a picture of the situation. When you actually decide to return to Syria - or to flee to Syria, as some Iraqis have - things must be pretty bad in Iraq," she said.

The United Nations estimates nearly 200,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011.

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.

 

You May Like

Photogallery US to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Expanded Ebola Effort

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Obama is to announce troop deployment, other details of US plans to fight Ebola outbreak More

China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

Comment Sorting
Comment on this forum (2)
Comments
     
by: gretta from: philippines
August 29, 2014 7:28 PM
How can you fight if you dont have the means to do so? 10 people against 1 armed men is still a lost for those unarmed men...


by: sr pablo pueblo from: NYC
August 29, 2014 6:14 PM
I think if this 3 Million people fight in stead of hide all this will be resolved.
Like Zapata said the ground is for the one that worked it.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid