Syrian refugees number tops 3 million. Only 124,000 in Europe

Most in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey. 'Rich nations should open borders'

29 August, 21:03

    Life in Zaatari camp in Jordan (Credit Caroline Gluck-Oxfam) Life in Zaatari camp in Jordan (Credit Caroline Gluck-Oxfam)

    (ANSAmed) - GENEVA - The crisis for Syrians has worsened with more than three million now registered as refugees, the UN's refugee agency said in a statement on Friday.

    The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said this toll does not include the hundreds of thousands of Syrians forced to flee the country who are not registered as refugees.

    The number of registered Syrian refugees has soared from two million less than a year ago, the UN said, adding that the situation is only getting worse inside the country with cities in which the population is starved and besieged, where civilians are targeted or killed indiscriminately.

    Moreover, 6.5 million are displaced inside the country due to the violence, which means that almost 50% of Syrians have been forced to leave their homes, according to UNHCR. One in eight Syrians left the country with the majority travelling to Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Over half are minors.

    ''The Syrian crisis has become the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era, yet the world is failing to meet the needs of refugees and countries hosting them'', said Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

    ''The response to the Syrian crisis has been generous, but the bitter truth is that it falls far short of what is needed'', Guterres added.

    Only the opening of borders in Western and wealthy nations could help a population suffering immensely, warned Oxfam on Friday. The appeal came after the UNHCR announcement that the number of officially registered Syrian refugees had reached 3 million, while 10.8 million people including over 6 million internally displaced were in need of aid in the country.

    As of late August, UNHCR said that registered Syrian refugees numbered 1,169,846 in Lebanon, 832,503 in Turkey, 612,737 in Jordan (over 80% in the two official camps, Azraq and Zaatari), 215,369 in Iraq (a sharp decrease has been seen over the past two months, due to fighting in the country), 139,040 in Egypt, 23,367 in North Africa (Morocco, Algeria and Libya) and 123,600 in Europe. Only approximately 5,000 refugees have been resettled in countries beyond Syria's neighbors through the UN: 0.16% of the refugee population. Meanwhile the UN humanitarian appeal for the refugee response is still woefully underfunded, with less than half the money it needs.

    Though neighboring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey have been very generous in helping refugees to date, their generosity is wearing thin as often poor host communities bear the brunt of Syria's ongoing crisis. The international community must play its part in offering refugees protection and supporting neighboring countries so they can keep their borders open to people fleeing the conflict, Oxfam said. Facing significant funding shortfalls, humanitarian agencies have already had to cut programs and target their assistance, leaving refugees to go without. In Jordan, Oxfam has had to halt cash payments that were helping 6,500 refugees in host communities. In June 2014, the UN was forced to downscale the funding target aimed at refugees from USD 4.20 to 3.74 billion due to a lack of available funds from donors.

    ''The fact that 3 million Syrians are now refugees is just part of the picture of human suffering. With 10.8 million more people needing help inside Syria and indiscriminate attacks on civilians claiming more lives each week, more and more families will be forced to seek sanctuary. Refugees are increasingly depleting their savings and assets,'' underscored Oxfam Italia's Riccardo Sansone. Of the 10.8 million people in need of assistance out of a population of 22 million, the internally displaced now total about 6.4 million, while 4.7 million need aid and are in locations ''difficult to access'' locations, including about 241,000 living in areas besieged by government or opposition forces. The UN puts the number of recorded deaths at over 191,000 since the conflict began in March 2011, and ever more Syrians are forced to flee to bordering nations. (ANSAmed)


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