Author: par Dominic Evans
Story date: 11/12/2012
BEYROUTH, 11 décembre (Reuters) Les combats entre l'armée syrienne et les rebelles pour le contrôle du coeur du pays se sont poursuivis mardi autour de la capitale, Damas, après vingt mois d'un conflit qui a contraint plus d'un demi-million de civils à prendre le chemin de l'exil.
Les affrontements ont lieu près de l'aéroport international de Damas, à une vingtaine de kilomètres du centre-ville. Les rebelles tiennent désormais un arc de terrain quasi continu qui s'étend de l'est au sud-ouest de la capitale.
"Il y a eu des affrontements très durs depuis hier dans la localité d'Haran, à la périphérie est de l'aéroport. Il y a eu aussi des combats sporadiques dans la zone d'Akraba près de l'aéroport", a déclaré Moussab Abou Kitada, un porte-parole des rebelles, joint par Skype à Damas.
"Les rebelles essaient de maintenir l'aéroport encerclé. Ils encerclent aussi la base aérienne d'Akraba, sur la route de l'aéroport international", a-t-il ajouté,
L'écho des bombardements résonne jusque dans le centre de la capitale, rapportent les habitants. Ils semblent provenir de la zone montagneuse de Qasioun, qui surplombe le nord de Damas, et viser les banlieues sud tenues par les rebelles.
Les rebelles, pour la plupart issus de la communauté sunnite, semblent opérer une percée depuis un mois contre les forces restées loyales au président Bachar al Assad, issues, elles, pour l'essentiel de la minoritaire alaouite.
Les insurgés se sont emparés de bases militaires et commencent à encercler la capitale, où les coupures de courant et la pénurie de denrées alimentaires se font sentir à l'approche de l'hiver.
"On survit à peine", soupire une femme du quartier de Midane. Elle dit avoir fait la queue de 06h00 du matin à midi devant les boulangeries à court de pain et où les prix flambent. "Si je veux acheter dans la rue, le marché noir est (...) environ trois fois plus cher", dit-elle. "On vit sans eau et sans électricité et la nourriture est très chère."
Les pannes de courant dans le centre de Damas durent parfois douze heures. Il est de plus en plus difficile de se déplacer dans une ville truffée de points de contrôle et où l'armée, les forces de l'ordre et les groupes d'autodéfense sont partout.
L'intensification du conflit, devenu guerre civile au fil des mois, a jeté sur les routes des milliers de Syriens.
Selon le Haut-Commissariat des Nations unies pour les Réfugiés (HCR), le nombre de réfugiés en provenance de Syrie dépasse officiellement le demi-million. Si l'on y ajoute les réfugiés qui ne s'inscrivent pas, ou pas tout de suite, auprès du HCR, le nombre total de déplacés hors des frontières est sans doute plus proche de 700.000. (voir )
Sur le plan diplomatique, la Russie aurait pris ses distances avec la Syrie, selon le quotidien russe Kommersant, mais ne serait pas pour autant prête à demander le départ de Bachar al Assad.
L'opposition syrienne est pour sa part à la recherche d'un soutien international plus fort.
La nouvelle Coalition de l'opposition syrienne, créée le 11 novembre à Doha, au Qatar, pourrait être reconnue officiellement par l'Union européenne à l'occasion d'une réunion officielle du groupe des Amis de la Syrie mercredi à Marrakech.
Déjà adoubée par la France et le Royaume-Uni, la Coalition, dirigée par Mouaz Alkhatib, une figure religieuse de Damas, pourrait l'être aussi mercredi par les Etats-Unis. La secrétaire d'Etat américaine Hillary Clinton est attendue à Marrakech.
Par ailleurs, le tout nouveau commandement militaire unifié de 30 membres créé ce week-end en Turquie et dominé par les islamistes, doit lui aussi être davantage soutenu à l'étranger, a déclaré Abou Mouaz al Agha, dirigeant et porte-parole du Rassemblement Ansar al Islam qui regroupe plusieurs brigades rebelles islamistes.
"Ce dont nous avons besoin maintenant, ce sont des armes lourdes. (...) Nous attendons les armes anti-chars et anti-aériennes", a-t-il déclaré, joint en Turquie par Skype.
Les Etats-Unis ont annoncé avoir placé sur leur liste des organisations terroristes le groupe islamiste rebelle Djabhat al Nousra, soupçonné de liens avec al Qaïda, ainsi que deux milices liées au pouvoir syrien, Chabiha et Djaïch al Chabi.
(Avec Erika Solomon et Mariam Karouny à Beyrouth et Stephanie Nebehay à Genève, Danielle Rouquié pour le service français, édité par Gilles Trequesser)
Publisher: APA, Agence de Presse Africaine
Story date: 11/12/2012
APA Nouakchott (Mauritania) The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR has just completed registration level 2 of Malian refugees in the Mbera camp, Mauritania, providing them with registration certificates for better protection and assistance access.
There were over 110,000 Malian refugees registered in the camp of Mbera through registration level 1 since the outbreak of fighting in North Mali in January.
Following the completion of registration level 2, the number of Malian refugees in the camp of Mbera is 54,117.
According to a UNHCR release, Registration level 1 is conducted at the household level at the outset of an emergency, when people are fleeing their country of origin.
It allows UNHCR to quickly obtain the numbers of families entering a country of asylum and determines the level of humanitarian assistance to be provided at the beginning of the emergency.
During registration level 2, detailed data, such as the gender, age, region of origin, is collected and recorded on every individual within a household unit.
UNHCR conducted the registration process jointly with the Mauritanian authorities and with the support of the humanitarian actors operating in the camp.
It provided the Mauritanian authorities and UNHCR with reliable and detailed statistics and has enabled the identification of vulnerable refugees, the release said.
After going through the registration level 2 process, refugees have also received ration cards which allow for access to food rations.
According to UNHCR, the results of this registration facilitate better targeting and delivery of assistance to the refugees.
UNHCR expressed its appreciation and gratitude to the Mauritanian authorities, the Malian refugees in the camp of Mbera and the humanitarian actors operating in the camp for their support which has contributed to the successful completion of registration level 2.
Publisher: The New York Times, USA
Author: By ALIA MALEK
Story date: 11/12/2012
YEREVAN, Armenia — At the newly opened Cilician School in this former Soviet republic, the textbooks are in Arabic, photocopied from a single set flown out of war-torn Syria. The curriculum is Syrian, the flag on the principal's desk is Syrian, and the teachers and students are all Syrians.
They are also ethnic Armenians, driven by Syria's civil war to a notional motherland most barely know.
"Those who are coming here clearly want to go back," said the school's principal, Noura Pilibosyan, who came from Aleppo, Syria, in the summer. "Armenian is our language, but our culture is Syrian. It is hard to come here."
Their ancestors fled the Ottoman genocide in what is now Turkey nearly a century ago and flourished in Syria, reviving one of the many minority groups that have long coexisted there.
Now, the flight of Syrian Armenians — one of many lesser-noticed ripple effects that could reshape countries well beyond Syria's neighbors — is raising questions about the future of Syria's diversity. And it is forcing Armenia, which depends on its strong diaspora communities to augment its otherwise scant geopolitical heft, to make delicate calculations about whether to encourage their exodus or slow it.
For now, Armenia is hedging its bets. It is sending aid to Armenians in Syria, helping them stay and survive. But it is also helping them come to Armenia, temporarily or permanently, by fast-tracking visas, residency permits and citizenship.
"Our policy is to help them the way they tell us to help them," said Vigen Sargsyan, the chief of staff to Armenia's president, Serzh Sargsyan.
About 6,000 Syrians have sought refuge in Armenia as fighting engulfs Aleppo, Syria's largest city, where an estimated 80,000 of Syria's 120,000 Armenians live. More arrive each week even as a few trickle back, unable to afford Yerevan or stay away from houses and businesses they left behind unguarded in Syria.
Ethnic Armenians are a fraction of an accelerating flood of fleeing Syrians expected to reach 700,000 by year's end, mainly in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. But since the Armenians, unlike other Syrians, can easily acquire an alternative nationality, Syria could see one of its vibrant communities permanently diminished.
Syrian Armenians are known for their gold and silver craftsmanship and exquisite cuisine. They are also a critical component of Syria's connection to Russia and the West, serving an intermediary role through their relations with the global Armenian diaspora.
Aleppo represents the last vestiges of Western Armenia, which was historically divided from what is now modern-day Armenia by Mount Ararat, a separation that through the centuries gave rise to different languages and cultures.
While Syrian Armenians have remained officially neutral in Syria's civil war, as Christians many are wary of the rebels' Islamist strains, and as Armenians suspicious of the rebels' Turkish support.
The Cilician School, with 250 students, reflects the ambivalence of Syrian Armenians here: many want to return to their existence in the diaspora, even as they are welcomed in their historical homeland.
"Armenia always said, 'Come to your home.' They always asked us to come back," said a man who identified himself only as Harout and was visiting a new Syrian Armenian club here in Yerevan, the capital. "Honestly, I love Armenia, but I wouldn't leave Syria. I am praying just to go back."
For Armenia, the Syrians' arrival reignites a debate over how to manage its relationship with Armenians in the diaspora: encourage them to immigrate or keep them where they are, from the United States to the Middle East, generous with remittances and committed to lobbying abroad for Armenia's interests.
Advocates of resettlement contend that Syria's loss could ultimately be Armenia's gain. Not only do they want to protect fellow Armenians, they want Syrian Armenians — often skilled, wealthy, educated and entrepreneurial — to help the struggling post-Soviet economy, stem high emigration and bring new ideas.
"Such diversity only enriches a nation," said Vahe Yacoubian, a lawyer based in California who invests in Armenia and has advised the government.
So the government is easing relocation. Syrians in Armenia can use Syrian drivers' licenses, obtain free medical care and pay local tuition at universities. Governmental and private groups help Syrian Armenians find jobs and transfer businesses to Armenia.
A vociferous minority has seized on fears of violence in Syria — and memories of the Ottoman genocide — to push for a larger nationalist goal, the return of all Armenians to the country.
"This is our land — not L.A., not New York, not Syria," said Vartan Marashlyan, Armenia's former deputy diaspora minister and the executive director of Repat Armenia, an organization founded in August to "actively champion" what it calls the "repatriation" of Armenians from around the world.
Syrian Armenians who yearn for Syria "want to be in the Aleppo of one year ago," a setting whose peaceful coexistence may not return, he said. Referring to estimates of genocide deaths, he added, "We lost 1.5 million people to this mentality that it will all work out."
But homesick Syrian Armenians find resettling hard to contemplate. They point out that nationalists like Mr. Marashlyan came to Armenia by choice, not fleeing violence.
"They want to put the label 'repat' on me," said Harout Ekmanian, a Syrian Armenian journalist from Aleppo. "I am a Syrian in exile."
Few Syrian Armenians have heeded past calls to immigrate, even after Armenia's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. They considered themselves Syrian, speaking Arabic and Western Armenian, not the Eastern Armenian spoken in Armenia.
Still, many contributed money and support to the fledgling state, especially during a territorial war with Azerbaijan that ended in 1994 and still simmers.
Armenia, too, needs its influential Middle East diaspora to navigate regional tensions, said Salpi Ghazarian, the director of the Civilitas Foundation in Yerevan and a former Foreign Ministry official. She said ethnic Armenians in Arab countries and Iran had helped keep the dispute between Armenia, a largely Christian country, and Azerbaijan, which is mainly Muslim, from gaining traction as a pan-Muslim issue, urging their governments not to take sides.
Tehran's Armenian community also promotes crucial trade with neighboring Iran, she said. Armenia is landlocked, and its borders with Azerbaijan, and its ally Turkey, are closed, making Iran a lifeline. "If those communities disappear, those human relations disappear," Ms. Ghazarian said. "Then we are left without good friends."
Armenia has kept neutral on Syria's uprising and has worked hard to aid people inside Syria. In recent months, three cargo planes carrying food and donations from Armenians flew from Yerevan to Aleppo, after intense negotiations with both Syria, which has severely limited external aid, and Turkey, which normally bans Armenian cargo from its airspace.
The aid was distributed in Armenian neighborhoods, but without regard to sect or ethnicity.
"We consider Syria our neighbor," said Vahan Hovhannisyan, a Parliament member who oversaw the effort. Armenians are "grateful to Syria," he said, because after the genocide, "Syria gave them back life."
The government recognizes that Syria is the only home several generations of Syrian Armenians know. It approved the Cilician School's Syrian curriculum and Western Armenian instruction. An Armenian political party covers costs; tuition is free.
"They feel like Syria is their home," said Amalia Qocharyan, an Armenian education official. "But the reality is they have two homelands, Syria and Armenia."
At the school, a class of seventh graders was asked who missed Syria. They answered in unison, in Arabic.
"Ana," they said. "Me."
Asked about life in Yerevan, they were quieter. They said they missed houses and friends; one said he could not be happy seeing pictures of fighting in Aleppo.
"In Aleppo, I used to see the Armenian flag, and I wanted to go," said Vana, 11. "Here, when I see the Syrian flag, I just want to go home."
This article was financed in part by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
Publisher: AP, Associated Press
Story date: 11/12/2012
MARRAKECH, Morocco — The fourth conference for the "Friends of the Syrian People" is set to open with expectations that the U.S. will give its backing to the new Syrian opposition coalition.
More than a hundred delegates, including from the U.S., France, Britain and the Gulf countries, are gathering in the Moroccan city of Marrakech on Wednesday to unveil measures to support the newly formed Syrian group.
The meeting comes as rebel forces in Syria have scored a number of victories against the regime of Bashar Assad in recent weeks.
France and the U.K. have already recognized the new opposition coalition, formed in Doha, Qatar, last November following criticism that the anti-Assad forces lacked cohesion.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was expected to attend the conference, but cancelled following an illness.
Publisher: Economist Intelligence Unit
Story date: 11/12/2012
The Syrian civil war is having ramifications over the border in Iraq, including in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The semi-autonomous region's relations with Syrian Kurds are contributing to tensions with the Iraqi central government and present a risk to strengthening ties with Turkey. The Iraqi Kurds have attempted to foster greater unity among the two main Syrian Kurdish factions and have been providing shelter to refugees and also military training. Amid the uncertainty in Syria we expect that the KRG will continue to support its brethren across the border, but will also seek to avoid alienating Turkey.
The Kurds are often described as the largest people group without their own nation. They number more than 30m, with around half this number in south-east Turkey and the remainder split mainly between northern Iraq and north-west Iran, with a smaller community of around 2m in north-east Syria (plus enclaves in north and north-west Syria). Decades of struggle for rights and autonomy, combined with their backing of Kurdish rebels in rival states, have produced an alphabet soup of Kurdish parties and militias, often in conflict with each other.
The Iraqi Kurds have secured the most autonomy of any Kurdish community in modern history. There have long been suspicions that the Iraqi Kurds would like to go beyond mere autonomy and claim independence, particularly since the discovery of sizeable oil and gas reserves that could theoretically sustain an independent state. However, the KRG is geographically isolated and is forging closer links with Turkey, in order to reduce dependence on the central government in Iraq. The conflict in Syria has the potential to reshuffle the cards in the deck in ways that could either aid or undermine Kurdish aspirations.
Uneasy unity among Syrian Kurds
Much of the Syrian Kurdish community tried to take a neutral stance during the first year of that country's civil war. The Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, sought to win over the Kurds last year by promising to extend citizenship to around 200,000 Kurds who had long been denied it. However, this pledge (which seems to have only been partly implemented), at most bought the regime a period of quiet in the Kurdish regions. Kurds have faced a difficult decision, because although they have been oppressed by the Assad regime, they fear that its defeat could lead to a state dominated by Sunni Arabs (and potentially by Islamists amongst them) that could prove more oppressive than Mr Assad, who has relied upon support from other minority groups.
There are currently two assertive trends in the Syrian Kurdish community. The Kurdish Democratic Union (PYD) was founded in 2003 as the Syrian offshoot of the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been fighting a violent campaign against the Turkish authorities for decades. It appears to be the best organised and militarily strongest group. The Kurdish National Council (KNC) is a coalition of 15 parties formed in Irbil, the capital of the KRG, in October 2011, with the support of the KRG. The formation of the KNC was partly seen as a counter to the PYD/PKK. However, the Iraqi Kurds have sought to foster unity between the two factions, brokering an agreement in July 2012 to form a joint Kurdish Supreme Council and to unify their militias into the Popular Protection Units.
Clashes with the Syrian opposition
In mid-2012 Kurdish groups began to bring their forces into the field, and by November they had secured control of most of the north-east corner of the country, as well as Kurdish enclaves along the Turkish border such as Afrin and Ayn al-Arab. A regional Kurdish government was formed in Qamishli, the main city in the north-east, and a parliament elected. The PYD was at the forefront of this push, and the apparent ease with which it took over from government forces has led to accusations that it is in an alliance with the regime.
These suspicions were fed by statements last year by both the PYD chairman, Salih Muslim, who said that there was a de facto tactical truce with the regime, and, more significantly, by a PKK commander, Cemil Bayik, who warned Turkey in November 2011 that if it intervened in Syria then the PKK would join the fight on Mr Assad's side. However, even if there had been some tacit agreement with the regime, recent conflict between the PYD and regime forces suggests that it no longer holds.
In any case, there have been serious clashes between Kurdish forces and opposition militias. In particular, there were clashes in Kurdish neighbourhoods of Aleppo in October and in Ras al-Ayn in November. Most of the clashes seem to have been not with the Western-supported Free Syria Army, which signed a truce with the Kurds on November 5th, but with Islamist groups such as the Front for the Protection of the People of Syria (Jabhat al-Nusra Li-Ahl al-Sham).
Alms and arms
Aside from the political support in unifying the Syrian Kurdish factions, the Iraqi Kurds have been providing shelter to refugees, as well as military training and-probably-weapons. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has data on around 55,000 refugees from Syria in the KRG, which is likely to be an underestimate; most of these are likely to be Syrian Kurds.
By contrast, the Iraqi central government has been unenthusiastic about hosting Syrian refugees, given concerns that the refugees might include jihadists who could contribute to ongoing conflict in Iraq (which has only this year been eclipsed in intensity by the Syrian war). It currently hosts fewer than 9,000 Syrian refugees.
The different approaches to border control created a military standoff between Iraqi and KRG forces in July, when the central government sought to garrison Fishkabour, the border crossing between the KRG and Syria. This echoed the periodic standoffs between the two over the disputed territories in northern Iraq.
Ties with Turkey
While the Iraqi Kurds are keen to support their brethren in Syria, they cannot easily risk alienating Turkey, which objects to the PYD given its relationship to the PKK. Ties between the KRG and Turkey have been strengthening, with trade surging and energy co-operation plans proliferating. Turkey has in part been prioritising relations with the KRG in the hope that the group will help Turkey to contain the PKK. Stronger bilateral ties also reflect the sharp worsening of relations between Iraq and Turkey, and between the KRG and the central government in Baghdad.
Balancing these aims will be far from straightforward. Massoud Barzani, the KRG president, may be hoping to play a mediating role in the future, to deliver Syrian Kurdish support to Syrian rebels backed by Turkey and perhaps to peel the PYD away from the PKK, in return for their protection in a new Syria, perhaps along the lines of the KRG federal model.
However, this may become harder to achieve if the conflict drags on much longer, if the Islamist rebels become even stronger or if the PYD-KNC alliance breaks down. Furthermore, a second autonomous Kurdish region would fuel concerns in both Iraq and Turkey about Kurdish regional irredentism.
Publisher: AFP, Agence France Presse
Story date: 11/12/2012
The number of Syrian refugees registered in neighbouring countries and North Africa has passed half a million, the UN's refugee body said Tuesday, adding that many more have not come forward to seek help.
"According to UNHCR's latest figures from Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and North Africa, 509,559 Syrians are either registered or in the process of being registered," the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said.
Publisher: M2 Presswire
Story date: 11/12/2012
More than half a million Syrian refugees have now been registered or are awaiting registration in neighbouring countries and North Africa, and the numbers are currently climbing by more than 3,000 per day, the United Nations refugee agency announced today.
"According to UNHCR's latest figures from Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and North Africa, 509,559 Syrians are either already registered or in the process of being registered," the chief spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees ( UNHCR ), Melissa Fleming, told a news briefing in Geneva today.
Some 425,160 are registered and another 84,399 are in the process of being registered. As of Monday, she added, the latest figures of registered Syrian refugees or those awaiting registration in each country are: Lebanon, 154,387; Jordan, 142,664; Turkey, 136,319; Iraq, 64,449; and North Africa, 11,740.
Syria has been wracked by violence, with at least 20,000 people, mostly civilians, killed since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began some 21 months ago. In addition to the growing number of refugees, more than 2.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, according to UN estimates, especially as winter approaches.
At the news briefing, Ms. Fleming said that since the beginning of November, the number of registered refugees region-wide has risen by about 3,200 a day, including both new arrivals from Syria and those who had already been in the asylum countries for some time but had not sought help through registration.
"The numbers of those struggling to live on the local economy and who eventually come forward to register are expected to increase as the conflict in Syria continues, resources are depleted and host communities and families can no longer support them," Ms. Fleming said.
In the case of Jordan, close to 1,000 Syrian refugees have crossed during the past two nights, she added, noting that Syrian refugees arriving during recent bad weather, reached Jordan with soaked clothing and mud-covered shoes due to heavy rainfall.
UNHCR protection teams described the night time arrivals as "fearful, freezing, and without proper winter clothing," Ms. Fleming said.
The refugee agency and its partners have welcomed some 2,500 Syrian refugees to the Za'atri camp, in northern Jordan, in the past week with blankets, sleeping mats and a high energy meal, with doctors responding to the medical needs of the newly arrived.
As part of efforts to help refugees deal with the winter cold, UNHCR and humanitarian partners are in the process of distributing some 50,000 high thermal blankets at the Za'atri camp. This is in addition to some 62,000 blankets that have already been distributed there to date.
In addition to those already registered or awaiting registration, Ms. Fleming noted, most of the neighbouring countries and North Africa also have large numbers of Syrians who have yet not come forward to seek help.
Jordan estimates, for example, that it has some 100,000 who are not registered. Turkey estimates there are more than 70,000 outside camps, while Egypt is estimating a similar number there. Lebanon also estimates that it has tens of thousands who have not yet registered.
Ms. Fleming said that UNHCR is stepping up its outreach activities in the region to provide registration and help to those who need it.
"This is not easy, given the wide dispersal of the Syrian refugees in some areas," she said. "In Lebanon, for example, they are spread across some 500 municipalities, some of them quite remote."
The UNHCR spokeswoman added that contrary to public perceptions, only about 40 per cent of registered Syrian refugees region-wide actually live in refugee camps — the majority live outside camps, often in rental housing, with host families, or in various types of collective centres and renovated accommodation.
In Lebanon and North Africa, for example, there are no camps. Instead, Syrian refugees live in both urban and rural communities. In Jordan, only 24 per cent live in camps. In Iraq, half are in camps. In Turkey, 100 per cent are in government-run camps. There are currently 14 camps in Turkey, three in Iraq and three in Jordan.
Publisher: Reuters News
Author: By Stephanie Nebehay
Story date: 11/12/2012
GENEVA, Dec 11 (Reuters) More than half a million Syrian refugees are now registered or are waiting to in other Middle Eastern countries, with about 3,000 new people seeking refugee status and assistance daily, the United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday.
In the last two days alone, 1,000 people have crossed at night into Jordan, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told a briefing.
"They arrived in very bad weather, their clothing soaked, shoes covered in mud," she said. "UNHCR teams have described them as fearful, freezing and without proper winter clothing."
According to UNHCR's latest figures for Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and North Africa, 509,559 Syrians are either already registered (425,160) or in the process of being registered as refugees requiring international assistance.
"People are being instantly and violently uprooted and losing everything they had in a place that was once peaceful," she said.
The number of registered Syrian refugees region-wide rose by about 3,200 per day in November, both new arrivals and those who signed up only once their resources were depleted, it said.
"We are getting increasing numbers of people already in the countries coming forward," Fleming said.
More Syrians struggling to live in their host country are expected to come forward as the war continues, their savings are exhausted and host families can no longer support them.
Lebanon now hosts 154,387 registered Syrian refugees who have fled the 20-month-old conflict, Jordan has 142,664, Turkey 136,319, Iraq 65,449 and North Africa 11,740, the UNHCR said.
In addition, hundreds of thousands of Syrians are believed to have crossed into neighbouring countries but not yet come forward to register for refugee status and assistance, it said.
They include about 100,000 in Jordan, 70,000 each in both Turkey and Egypt and tens of thousands in Lebanon, it said, citing government estimates.
The latest estimates indicate that the total number of Syrians who have fled during the conflict has already surpassed the 700,000 refugees that UNHCR forecast by year end, although more than 200,000 of them have not registered formally.
Only 40 percent of the registered Syrian refugees in the region actually live in refugee camps, the rest are staying in rental housing, with host families or in collective centres.
In Lebanon there are no camps, while in Turkey all are in 14 government-run camps. There are three camps in Iraq and three in Jordan, the largest of which is Za'atri with more than 30,000.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
Publisher: Deutsche Welle
Story date: 11/12/2012
More than half a million Syrian refugees are registered or are waiting to be registered in the Middle East and North Africa, the UN has said. There are also estimated to be large numbers of refugees still undocumented.
The number of Syrian refugees is growing by more than 3,000 people per day, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said Tuesday.
"509,559 Syrians are already registered [425,160] or in the process of being registered [84,399]," Chief spokesperson Melissa Fleming told reporters in Geneva.
According to the UNHCR's latest figures, there are 154,387 unregistered refugees in Lebanon, 142,664 in Turkey, and 136,319 in Iraq. There are a further 64,449 in Iraq and 11,740 in North Africa.
Only 40 percent of refugees live in camps. The rest stay "in rental housing, with host families, or in various types of collective centers and renovated accommodation," said Fleming.
Fleming said that in addition to people registered or awaiting registration, a number of Syrians have not yet come forward to seek help. Jordan estimates that it has around 100,000 unregistered refugees, while Turkey and Egypt estimate they have approximately 70,000.
Rapid refugee increase
Since the beginning of November, the number of registered refugees in the region has grown by about 3,200 per day, said the UNHCR. That includes new arrivals from Syria, and those who had already been in asylum countries but had not yet been registered.
"The number of those struggling to live on the local economy and who eventually come forward to register are expected to increase as the conflict in Syria continues, resources are depleted and host communities and families can no longer support them," said Fleming.
Some 1,000 Syrian refugees have entered Jordan in the last two nights alone.
"Syrian refugees arriving during recent bad weaqther, reached Jordan with soaked clothing and mud-covered shoes due to heavy rainfall," said Fleming. "UNHCR protection teams described the night time arrivals as fearful, freezing and without proper winter clothing."
In Jordan, 60 percent of recent arrivals are under the age of 18, with 22 newborn infants arriving Sunday night and a "number of unaccompanied minors," said the UNHCR.
An estimated 40,000 people have died in the Syrian civil war since the conflict began 20 months ago.
Publisher: Xinhua News Agency
Story date: 11/12/2012
UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) Syrian refugees have kept on the rise, with the number exceeding half a million, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
The information was disclosed by UN spokesman Martin Nesirky at a daily news briefing held here Tuesday.
Syria has been suffering from a long-standing crisis which broke out in March 2011, and has sent a large influx of refugees into its neighboring Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.
"More than half a million Syrian refugees have now been registered or are awaiting registration in four surrounding countries and North Africa," said Nesirky, quoting statistics given by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
"Since the beginning of November, the number of registered refugees region-wide has risen by about 3,200 a day, including both new arrivals from Syria and those who had already been in the asylum countries for some time but had not sought help through registration."
UNHCR predicted the number of those who come forward to register would go up as the conflict in Syria continues, resources were depleted and host countries and families could no longer support them.
"According to the agency, only about 40 percent of registered Syrian refugees across the region actually live in refugee camps," said the spokesman. "The majority live outside camps, often in rental housing, with host families, or in various types of collective centres and renovated accommodation."
"UNHCR is stepping up its outreach activities in the region to provide registration and to help those who need it," he said.
Last week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited refugee camps in Jordan and Turkey to express his solidarity and to help highlight the need for more funding.
Refugees Global Press Review
Compiled by Media Relations and Public Information Service, UNHCR
For UNHCR Internal Distribution