Number of registered Syrian refugees triples to more than 300,000 in three months

News Stories, 2 October 2012

© UNHCR/A.Rummery
Young Syrian refugees in Jordan's Za'atri camp.

GENEVA, October 2 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency announced Tuesday that the number of Syrians registered or awaiting registration as refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq has passed 300,000, triple the level of just three months ago.

"The latest figures show a total regional registered population of more than 311,500 Syrian refugees in the four countries, compared to around 100,000 in June," UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva.

The continuing rapid growth in refugee numbers underscores the urgency of last week's revised Syria Regional Response Plan seeking $487.9 million in support of up to 710,000 Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries by the end of this year.

The generosity and hospitality shown by these countries as they struggle to cope with growing numbers of refugees make it essential that the international community provide as much support as possible. Many refugees and the communities hosting them are already running out of resources.

"Compounding the urgency is the upcoming onset of winter temperatures across the region in less than 10 weeks from now," Edwards said. "We are in a race against time. In Jordan, for example, where thousands are living in tents, the average low temperature between mid-November and mid-March is two degrees Celsius. A winterization plan is being developed, but it too requires support and funding," he added.

Jordan is currently hosting 103,488 Syrians who have either registered or are awaiting registration four times more than in June. The new regional response plan estimates some 250,000 Syrian refugees will need assistance in Jordan by the end of the year.

Some 65 percent of Syrian refugees currently receiving or seeking assistance in Jordan are in urban areas, while the remaining 35 per cent are in the new camp at Za'atri and other smaller facilities. Since it opened just two months ago, Za'atri has received more than 30,000 people.

In many cases, those living on the local economy are finding it increasingly difficult as their resources dwindle. A growing number of Syrians struggling to live in urban areas have contacted UNHCR in Irbid, Ramtha, Mafraq and Zarqa, most of them worried about possible eviction. The vast majority of new arrivals are poor and in need of some kind of humanitarian assistance.

UNHCR and its partners offer a variety of programmes to assist urban refugees in need, including cash assistance and the provision of a package of household items. Since March, some 55,000 Syrians have received aid items, while cash grants have gone to more than 2,600 of the most destitute families.

The number of registered Syrian refugees and those awaiting registration in Lebanon is now more than 80,800 people. The Lebanese government estimates that, in addition, tens of thousands of Syrians have entered the country this year and not yet returned. Registered or not, they all live on the local economy often depending on relatives or their own resources.

It is expected that an increasing number will be seeking assistance in the coming months as the resources of refugees as well as their host families become seriously stretched. Thus, the revised Syria response plan estimates a registered Syrian refugee population of 120,000 by the end of 2012.

The scattered nature of the Syrian refugee population in Lebanon is posing challenges in providing assistance in often remote areas. Some 56 per cent are residing in the north, 41 per cent in the Bekaa Valley and the rest in Beirut and the south. Many of the hosting communities are among the most economically depressed in Lebanon.

As numbers increase and the winter months approach, needs are increasing and becoming more acute. UNHCR and partner agencies are rolling out a winterization programme aiming to provide refugee families and vulnerable Lebanese with fuel for heating, mattresses, blankets and clothes as well as needed refurbishment to accommodation.

In Turkey, government figures put the number of Syrian refugees registered and assisted by the government in camps at more than 93,500. Several thousand more are known to be residing outside the current 13 camps. Under the revised response plan, Turkey could be hosting up to 280,000 Syrian refugees by the end of this year.

In addition to the influx of Syrians, Turkey has also seen an increase in the number of urban asylum applications over the past 15 months many of them related to the crisis in Syria. The new arrivals consist mostly of Iraqis, Iranians, Afghans and others who have come to Turkey seeking protection.

A total of 33,704 Syrians have been registered in Iraq, including 4,263 in the past week. More than 28,000 are Syrian nationals of Kurdish origin who have arrived in the Kurdistan Region. Further south, at Al-Qaem, Anbar governorate, more than 5,600 Syrian nationals have sought asylum since the Baghdad government opened the country's borders in late July.

Initially, many of those fleeing into the Kurdish Region were single refugees. Recently, however, there has been a growing proportion of families among the new arrivals. The revised regional response plan estimates that up to 60,000 Syrians may be in need of protection and assistance in Iraq by the end of the year.

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2008 Nansen Refugee Award

The UN refugee agency has named the British coordinator of a UN-run mine clearance programme in southern Lebanon and his civilian staff, including almost 1,000 Lebanese mine clearers, as the winners of the 2008 Nansen Refugee Award.

Christopher Clark, a former officer with the British armed forces, became manager of the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre-South Lebanon (UNMACC-SL) n 2003. His teams have detected and destroyed tons of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and tens of thousands of mines. This includes almost 145,000 submunitions (bomblets from cluster-bombs) found in southern Lebanon since the five-week war of mid-2006.

Their work helped enable the return home of almost 1 million Lebanese uprooted by the conflict. But there has been a cost – 13 mine clearers have been killed, while a further 38 have suffered cluster-bomb injuries since 2006. Southern Lebanon is once more thriving with life and industry, while the process of reconstruction continues apace thanks, in large part, to the work of the 2008 Nansen Award winners.

2008 Nansen Refugee Award

Beyond the Border

In 2010, the Turkish border with Greece became the main entry point for people attempting by irregular methods to reach member states of the European Union, with over 132,000 arrivals. While some entered as migrants with the simple wish of finding a better life, a significant number fled violence or persecution in countries such as Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq and Somalia. The journey is perilous, with many reports of drowning when people board flimsy vessels and try to cross the Mediterranean Sea or the River Evros on the border between Greece and Turkey. The many deficiencies in the Greek asylum system are exacerbated by the pressure of tens of thousands of people awaiting asylum hearings. Reception facilities for new arrivals, including asylum-seekers, are woefully inadequate. Last year, UNHCR visited a number of overcrowded facilities where children, men and women were detained in cramped rooms with insufficient facilities. UNHCR is working with the Greek government to improve its asylum system and has called upon other European states to offer support.

Beyond the Border

Lebanese Returnees Receive Aid

UNHCR started distributing emergency relief aid in devastated southern Lebanese villages in the second half of August. Items such as tents, plastic sheeting and blankets are being distributed to the most vulnerable. UNHCR supplies are being taken from stockpiles in Beirut, Sidon and Tyre and continue to arrive in Lebanon by air, sea and road.

Although 90 percent of the displaced returned within days of the August 14 ceasefire, many Lebanese have been unable to move back into their homes and have been staying with family or in shelters, while a few thousand have remained in Syria.

Since the crisis began in mid-July, UNHCR has moved 1,553 tons of supplies into Syria and Lebanon for the victims of the fighting. That has included nearly 15,000 tents, 154,510 blankets, 53,633 mattresses and 13,474 kitchen sets. The refugee agency has imported five trucks and 15 more are en route.

Posted on 29 August 2006

Lebanese Returnees Receive Aid

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