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.

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