Amid conflict in Syria, neighbouring countries see rising numbers of refugees

Briefing Notes, 10 August 2012

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 10 August 2012, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR's offices in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, and Iraq are all reporting increases this week in the number of refugees from Syria. UNHCR data, which primarily reflects those among the refugee community who have registered or are in the process of being registered, shows a total population of 146,667 people as of August 9th. In several countries we know there to be substantial refugee populations who have not yet registered.

In Turkey, the refugee population has now exceeded 50,000 people (50,227), with more than 6,000 new arrivals recorded this week alone. Many of these are from Aleppo and surrounding villages, but others are from Idlib and Latakia. While the main flow is into Turkey, around 8,000 people returned home voluntarily during July mainly to villages in Syria's Idlib area.

On August 6 the Turkish government opened a new camp at Akcakale. It has also announced its intention to double overall reception capacity from the current 50,000 people to 100,000 people with the construction of as many as thirteen additional sites. Currently refugees are hosted in nine camps, with women and children accounting for more than two thirds (72 percent) of the population.

In Iraq, there are now 13,730 refugees. Most of the arrivals this past week are in the Kurdistan region (720 people), although 596 refugees were recorded further south in the Al-Qaem area. Most of the people are from the Qamishli and Hassakeh areas of Syria. In the Kurdistan area, one third of the refugees are being housed in a camp at Domiz and others are living with the community. Once a new camp is established in Al Qaem, the refugees, presently in a school, will be relocated there if they have no opportunity to be hosted by the community. Another camp is being considered near Rabia at Al-Kasis.

A growing number of Iraqis are also returning from Syria, including 2,993 who have come back since the start of August. Since mi-July, 23,228 Iraqis have left Syria to return home.

In Lebanon, 36,841 Syrian refugees are now either registered or assisted, but many thousands who have recently arrived in Lebanon are not yet registered with UNHCR. Information campaigns and the dissemination of our Office's registration hotline continue in border villages to encourage newly arrived families in need of protection or assistance to come forward and register.

In Jordan the number of refugees has now reached 45,869 people, with 3,891 of these having arrived so far in August. Of the registered population, most have come from the Dara'a or Homs areas of Syria. Typically this population comprises farmers, house keepers, and small business owners. All new arrivals are now being transferred to the camp at Za'atri, where the population has now reached 4,414 people. UN and NGO partners including the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization are working to improve living conditions in the camps, which at present are difficult.

For further information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Beirut: Ariane Rummery on mobile +961 7100 2989
  • In Geneva: Adrian Edwards on mobile +41 79 557 91 20
  • In Geneva: Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba on mobile+41 79 249 34 83
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Displacement in South Sudan: A Camp Within a Camp

In the three weeks since South Sudan erupted in violence, an estimated 200,000 South Sudanese have found themselves displaced within their own country. Some 57,000 have sought sanctuary at bases of UN peace-keepers across the country. These photos by UNHCR's Senior Regional Public Information Officer Kitty McKinsey give a glimpse of the daily life of the 14,000 displaced people inside the UN compound known locally as Tong Ping, near the airport in Juba, South Sudan's capital. Relief agencies, including UNHCR, are rallying to bring shelter, blankets and other aid items, but in the first days, displaced people had to fend for themselves. The compounds have taken on all the trappings of small towns, with markets, kiosks, garbage collection and public bathing facilities. Amazingly, children still manage to smile and organize their own games with the simplest of materials.

Displacement in South Sudan: A Camp Within a Camp

Displacement Challenges for Libya

Libya endured severe upheaval in 2011 and the next government faces major challenges moving the country forward after four decades of Muammar Gaddafi's rigid rule. One task will be addressing and resolving the issue of tens of thousands of internally displaced people. Some are waiting for their homes to be repaired or rebuilt, but many more have been forced to desert their towns and villages because of their perceived support for Gaddafi and alleged crimes committed during the conflict. Meanwhile, growing numbers of people, including refugees and asylum-seekers, are coming to Libya from sub-Saharan Africa on well travelled mixed migration routes. Some are being detained as illegal immigrants, though many are people of concern. Others have risked the dangerous sea crossing to southern Europe.

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Displacement, Disability and Uncertainty in Ukraine

To date, around 275,500 people have been displaced by fighting in Ukraine. They include some who live with disability, including Viktoria, aged 41, and her husband, Aleksandr, 40, who both have cerebral palsy. Life is difficult enough under normal circumstances for the couple, who also have two sons; 20-year-old Dima, and Ivan aged 19 months. Now it has become a real struggle.

At the end of July, shelling in the eastern Ukraine city of Donetsk forced Viktoria and Aleksandr to flee to the neighbouring Kharkiv region. It wasn't long before Viktoria's medication ran out. In a desperate bid to help, Aleksandr called the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation, which found them transportation and accommodation in Kharkiv.

From there, they were taken to the Promotei Summer Camp, located near the town of Kupiansk. The forest, fresh air and a lake near the camp offered a perfect setting to spend the summer. But, like 120 other internally displaced people (IDP) living there, all Viktoria and Aleksandr could think about was home. They had hoped to return by the Autumn. But it soon came and went.

Today, it is still not safe to go back to Donetsk. Moreover, the camp has not been prepared for the coming winter and the administration has asked people to leave by October 15. Neither Viktoria nor Aleksandr know where they and their young son can go next. The following photographs of the couple and their youngest child were taken by Emine Ziyatdinova.

Displacement, Disability and Uncertainty in Ukraine

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