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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More