Geneva, 28 Muharram 1434/12 December 2012 (MINA) – Over half a million Syrian refugees have now been registered or are awaiting registration in neighbouring countries and North Africa, the numbers climbing rapidly to more than 3,000 daily, the United Nations refugee agency has announced.
“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,” said the chief spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Melissa Fleming, in a news briefing in Geneva, Tuesday (11/12), monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA).
Fleming said as of Monday 425,160 persons are registered and another 84,399 in the process of being registered or those awaiting registration in each country as follows in Lebanon, 154,387 persons, 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 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, Fleming said 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 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,” 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.
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 distributed 62,000 blankets until today.
In addition to those already registered or awaiting registration, 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.
“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.(T/R-010/R-03)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)