News / Middle East

UN Reports Sharp Rise in Syrian Refugees

Newly arrived Syrian refugees wait their turn to receive mattresses, blankets and other supplies, and to be assigned to tents, at the Zaatari Syrian refugees camp in Mafraq, near the Syrian border with Jordan, Jan. 28, 2013.
Newly arrived Syrian refugees wait their turn to receive mattresses, blankets and other supplies, and to be assigned to tents, at the Zaatari Syrian refugees camp in Mafraq, near the Syrian border with Jordan, Jan. 28, 2013.
Lisa Schlein
The U.N. refugee agency reports a sharp rise in the number of Syrian refugees in neighboring countries. The UNHCR says it now has registered more than 700,000 refugees, with most of the newly arrived crossing into Lebanon and Jordan.  

U.N. refugee spokesman Adrian Edwards says the desperate security and living conditions in Syria, especially in the town of Deraa, are prompting people to just pick up their things and flee.

“Numbers are never the right way to tell the story of the impact on so many lives of a situation like this that is happening in Syria," he said. "Nonetheless, they are so dramatic that they speak louder than anything else at the moment. We are looking at possibly a million people having become refugees from Syria by the middle of 2013. And, at the moment, in the absence of a political solution, there still is not an indication of any letup.”

Syrian Refugees by Country:

  • Lebanon: 228,936
  • Jordan: 222,762
  • Turkey: 163,161
  • Iraq: 79,469
  • Egypt: 14,375

Source: UNHCR
To highlight the dramatic increase in refugees, Edwards notes there were 515,000 registered as of December 12. That figure has gone up by almost 200,000 in the space of a few weeks.  And, even these numbers, he says, underestimate the true extent of the exodus.

Edwards says countries in the region are reporting the presence of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who have not come forward to be registered and to receive assistance.

The UNHCR spokesman says the situation is overwhelming and UNHCR staff is working overtime to try to keep pace with the sheer numbers of people waiting to be registered. He says the stories people tell of life in Syria are uniformly terrible.

“People over a number of months have spoken of difficulties in crossing, access difficulty, the security problems," he said. "We have people coming across injured. People have had to flee their homes without any ability to bring much with them. So, they are more or less empty-handed when they arrive. In many cases, there are medical needs.”

Edwards says the UNHCR is doing what it can to help these people. For example, Za’atri camp in Jordan hosts between 50,000 and 60,000 Syrian refugees. He says the agency is running several hospitals and clinics there. In addition to basic health care, he says the refugees are in need of tents and so much more to help them survive their difficult situation.

And, he says, all this takes money, which is in short supply. The UNHCR’s share of the United Nations’ joint $1 billion appeal for Syrian refugees is nearly $494 million. The UNHCR has received about 22 percent of that.

Edwards says donors are being generous. Money is coming in. But, the problem, he says, is that the money is just not coming in quickly enough.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs