News / Middle East

UNHCR: Keep Borders Open to Fleeing Syrians

Syrian refugees leave their tents after heavy rain, Al-Zaatari refugee camp, Mafraq, Jordan, Jan. 8, 2013.
Syrian refugees leave their tents after heavy rain, Al-Zaatari refugee camp, Mafraq, Jordan, Jan. 8, 2013.
Lisa Schlein
— The United Nations refugee agency is appealing to nations to keep borders open to refugees fleeing worsening violence in Syria.
 
With Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq already hosting more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) warns the number is expected to grow as the conflict intensifies.
 
Responding to reports that Syrians attempting to flee may be backed up at the international border crossings, agency officials say they are disturbed by accounts showing that many refugees are being prevented from leaving the war-torn nation.
 
The constant flow of refugees from Syria into Jordan's Zaatari camp has slowed to a near halt in recent days, and UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming says she does not know whether restrictions are being imposed on those wishing to leave Syria.
 
Explaining that Jordan is keeping borders open to refugees, she speculates that other factors are hindering people from crossing over.
 
“One, of course, is [that] it is just too dangerous to take to the road because fighting is going on," she said. "Second, people escape using smugglers and it often is very difficult either for people to access the funds that are available for these smugglers, or the smugglers are connected to different groups and they want to determine, perhaps, who can flee and who cannot.”
 
Fleming says both government officials and rebels who control checkpoints in towns and cities also may be restricting people from leaving.
 
While Lebanon is also keeping its borders open, ongoing fighting in the besieged, neighboring Syrian town of Qusair is making it too dangerous for people to flee.
 
“Refugees are telling us that the city is virtually cordoned off, that it is very difficult and dangerous to flee," said Fleming. "Some people tell us that it is emptied of civilians, but other sources say that most of the civilian population has now moved to one section of the town in the central and northern neighborhoods and are pretty much trapped.”
 
Fleming says the UNHCR expects a significant influx of Syrian refugees into neighboring countries as soon as the situation changes and security allows people to cross the borders.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid