Record numbers of Syrian refugees flee as UN warns of critically low funding

News Stories, 9 November 2012

© UNHCR/S.Malkawi
Syrian refugees head to safety in a neighbouring country.

GENEVA, November 9 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency said on Friday that the number of Syrian refugees crossing into Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan on Thursday and Friday had set a record for a 24-hour period.

The vast majority, reportedly 9,000 Syrians, crossed into Turkey's Urfa province during the night. The remaining 2,000 Syrians were registered and assisted by UNHCR in Jordan and Lebanon.

In Turkey, most of the refugees were taken to government-run camps in Ceylanpinar and Akcakale, while some are being cared for by relatives. Some of those who crossed into Turkey overnight reportedly re-entered Syria when the sound of artillery subsided.

A total of 71 of the new refugees arrived wounded and were given medical treatment. Two later died. With the latest influx, the total number of Syrians in 14 government-run camps in Turkey is now approaching 122,000.

This latest news coincided with the sixth Syria Humanitarian Forum in Geneva, which gathered of UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and donor countries.

Panos Moumtzis, UNHCR's regional coordinator for Syrian refugees, told the participants that funding for the operations to support Syrian refugees was at a critical level, with just 35 per cent of the requested US$487.9 million received to date. He warned the donors that "winter won't wait" and outlined the ambitious plans of UNHCR and 52 partner UN agencies and NGOs to prepare Syrian refugees for the winter.

The latest arrivals bring the number of Syrian refugees in the region to 408,000, but Moumtzis warned that far more are in the region.

The meeting also heard from UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria Radhouane Nouicer, who described the challenges faced by the UN and NGO community in trying to deliver aid in a country beset by violence and insecurity.

"Ordinary people are under siege, trapped, and aid agencies are often unable to reach them," he told donors, noting that "the Syrian people are probably the most effective aid organization, opening their homes to the displaced." Nouicer noted that of the 2.5 million Syrians estimated to be in need of assistance, at least 1.2 million are displaced.