Refugee outflow into neighbouring countries still growing fast, amid violence in Syria

Briefing Notes, 17 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 17 August 2012, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

There has been a further sharp rise in the number of Syrians fleeing to Turkey. Between Tuesday and Wednesday 3500 people crossed into the provinces of Kilis and Hatay, according to local officials. Those who crossed into Kilis (1700 people) are from the Azaz and Aleppo areas, while those crossing into Hatay were mainly from Aleppo and surrounds, but also from Latakia and Idlib.

With the latest arrivals there are now almost 65,000 Syrians in the nine camps in Turkey (though not all are yet formally registered), about 40 percent of these being people who have arrived this month. UNHCR is scaling up its humanitarian assistance in Turkey and will provide family tents, blankets, kitchen sets and other relief on an emergency basis to assist the Government of Turkey in addressing urgent needs.


In Jordan, refugee numbers are also climbing. Last night some 1080 people arrived at the Ramtha and Jaber border areas. On Wednesday the arrivals figure was 900 people, and 700 arrived on Tuesday. The Jordanian government is transferring all new arrivals to the Za'atri camp which now hosts some 7,655 people. More than 60 percent of those arriving at the camp this week have been children.

At the Za'atri camp we are working to improve conditions for the refugees, including the possibility of replacing tents with prefabs. More sanitation facilities are also being built and the ratio of people to toilets (now 40 to 1) is improving. While UNICEF is bringing in water daily, plans are underway for a well which will provide 60 to 80 cubic metres of water per hour. WFP is providing over 12,000 meals a day. Performances for children will be organized on the first two days of Eid.

The Jordanian government estimates some 150,000 Syrians have crossed into Jordan since March 2011. 46,898 refugees have registered with UNHCR and thousands more are receiving assistance from other organizations.


In Lebanon, UNHCR and its partners are urgently searching for alternative shelter for an increasing number of refugees staying in schools. We've seen a marked rise in the number of Syrians staying in collective shelters over the past fortnight, and these people will need to be relocated before school enrolment begins at the start of September. In Bekaa, our partner's shelter teams have identified several abandoned buildings which can be rehabilitated to provide shelter, and the search continues for more options. Meanwhile in the North, UNHCR and its partners are quickly searching for alternative shelter for some 30 families staying in schools in Wali Kahlid. We are working to rehabilitate unfinished houses to accommodate refugees, and otherwise helping host families with shelter tool kits to make renovations.

UNCHR and partners have been carrying out an assessment of school places as part of an effort to increase enrolment of Syrian children. We are working with local school directors and the Ministries of Education and Social Affairs to boost school enrolment of Syrian children in schools and improve conditions for Syrian and Lebanese children.

Registration continues throughout Lebanon, with 37,240 people registered nationwide to date. A further 9,432 people have contacted UNHCR to be registered.


UNHCR will help Iraqi authorities expand the camp in Al-Qaem and is discussing a new camp in the Al-Kasak area of Rabi'aa to accommodate the growing number of Syrian refugees. This will be the 4th camp in Iraq for Syrians alongside Domize, Al-Qaem and Al-Waleed. UNHCR will provide and install tents, provide relief items. UNICEF and the Government of Iraq will connect water and sanitation, and the government will provide electricity in the camp.

In all, 15,096 refugees from Syria are now in Iraq, with more than 10,000 of them hosted in Kurdistan. Of the total number of refugees in Iraq, 13,856 are registered while the rest are awaiting registration.

Syrian Arab Republic

UNHCR operations in Syria continue despite on-going shelling, explosions and armed clashes. Refugees continue to visit UNHCR offices for food, health, registration and counselling. We are also continuing our community visits, distributing relief items like blankets, mattresses, kitchen sets, jerry cans and diapers for babies to the displaced sheltering in public buildings. A few days ago, we began supporting SARC to provide hot meals for 6,000 families in communal shelters for the last five days of Ramadan. On Wednesday, the UNHCR-SARC cash-for-shelter projected started in the Al-Nabek village in Homs which has doubled in population since the conflict reached it earlier this year, with its residents generously hosting thousands of people. We aim to support 5,000 families in this area.

Our 11 telephone hotlines continue to receive calls from refugees about resettlement to third countries, internal relocation within Syria, and financial aid.

There are some three million persons affected by the conflict, 2.5 million in need of support, and 1.2 million internally displaced people, according to the Regional Humanitarian Relief Coordinator.


The total number of formally registered Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq now totals 170,116, though the real number of refugees is higher as not all refugees register.

Jordan: Total registered = 46,898

Lebanon: Total registered = 46,672

Iraq: Total registered = 15,096

The total number of Iraqi returnees from Syria has reached 26,821 since July 18, including 5,997 returnees by air.

Turkey: Total registered = 61,450 (figure does not include those awaiting registration)

Press contacts:

  • Ariane Rummery (Lebanon) + 961 71 002 689
  • Adrian Edwards (Geneva) +41 79 557 9120



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