UN: 100 000 more refugees flee Syria

2012-09-04 18:57

Geneva - More than 100 000 Syrians sought refugee status during August in what the United Nations describes as an eye-popping escalation in the pace of departures since the hostilities began.

The August total accounts for more than 40% of the 234 368 Syrian refugees who, as of the last count on September 2, had fled for surrounding countries since the uprising began 17 months ago, the UN refugee agency said on Tuesday.

"If you do the math, it's quite an astonishing number," the agency's chief spokesperson, Melissa Fleming, told reporters on Tuesday at the UN's European headquarters in Geneva. "And it points to a significant escalation in refugee movement and people seeking asylum, and probably points to a very precarious and violent situation inside the country."

The tide in people fleeing the civil war underscores the intensifying violence between President Bashar Assad's regime and the armed anti-government groups.


But even August's figure, which is the highest monthly total so far, only counts refugees who are registered and those awaiting registration. Officials acknowledge the real number of Syrian refugees is likely way above 200 000 since tens of thousands are believed to have not yet registered with authorities.

UN agencies will likely come under pressure to revise up their $193m estimate of the cost to help the refugees this year. That estimate in June was based on the expectation that there would be 185 000 refugees from Syria by the end of 2012.

Of the accounted number of refugees, a little over 80 000 are in Turkey where the borders remain open. Another 8 000 or so waiting to be processed at the border, Fleming said and the Turkish government is making plans to handle at least 150 000 refugees if the conflict keeps worsening.

In recent weeks there has been an influx from the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo and surrounding villages, alongside Idlib and Latakia, two areas where the fighting has been intense.


Jordan has more than 77 000 Syrian refugees, but officials there are bracing for as many as 150 000 refugees and are straining to build more camps to accommodate all those flowing in from Syria's south, where the uprising against Assad's government began in March 2011. Lebanon has more than 59 000 refugees and Iraq nearly 18 700, according to the refugee agency.

The refugee agency and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent are continuing to expand their operations to support displaced Syrians and appealing to all nations to take in Syrians who need asylum.

The UN's World Food Programme spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs told reporters that her agency is scaling up operations to provide food urgently needed by 1.5 million people this month, mainly in areas where there has been fighting and people have been made at least temporarily homeless.

Aleppo, Damascus

The fighting has spread to the country's two largest cities, the capital Damascus and the commercial hub of Aleppo.

Byrs said more than 264 000 people are taking shelter in public buildings in the Aleppo region - about 200 000 in rural areas and more than 64 000 in the city proper.

Activists say some 5 000 people were killed in August, the bloodiest month so far in the uprising and more than three times the monthly average. The UN children's agency says 1 600 were killed last week alone, another record high.

The two major activist groups, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees, have raised their total death toll to between 23 000 and 26 000.


The new president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, veteran Swiss diplomat Peter Maurer, met on Tuesday in Damascus with Assad, the Geneva-based group said on Tuesday.

It said Maurer would brief reporters on Friday on the outcome of his three-day visit, which began on Monday.
Syria's state-run SANA news agency reported that Assad told the Red Cross it was welcome to operate on the ground in Syria "as long as it works in a neutral and independent way".

A fifth meeting of the UN-sponsored Syrian Humanitarian Forum - made up of hundreds of nations, regional groups, UN agencies and non-governmental organisations - is also planned for Friday in Geneva.

At the last meeting in mid-July the operations director for the UN's humanitarian office said its appeal for $189m to help people inside Syria was only 20% funded.

  • Itu Santino Cortez - 2012-09-04 19:12

    This is what happened to south africa and is still happening , we currently hold the record for most \african\ foreigners in a country , we currently stand at around 12 million \african \ foreigners, and by my stupid calculations : for every couple thiers a child meaning by 2020 thier will be more \african\ foreigners than they're south africa we are no more known as the republic of south africa but simply AFRICA ! Please learn from our mistakes , no offence . SOURCES : Google

      Itu Santino Cortez - 2012-09-04 20:15

      @patrick.edwards.1426 can you please look up defintion of the word : Comment . Than look for recent comments under the articles of striking mine workers under Thank you.

      tommo.too - 2012-09-05 00:11

      I totally agree with Itu.

  • kafantaris2 - 2012-09-04 22:06

    Perhaps the U.N. sees no harm in sending envoy Brahimi to Syria, but it is utterly foolish for him to be there in the midst of aerial bombings and intense ground fighting. Indeed, even if peace was still plausible, it would mean loss of power for Assad and his henchmen -- or their answering for war crimes, as they had reached the point of no return to civilized governance long ago. Their only hope now is to fight the rebellion and carve out a chunk of Syria for their refuge. The Iranian regime is absolutely determined to help Assad do this -- which is precisely why the path through Syria has become our gateway to Iran. And let us not fool ourselves: That regime will have to be confronted militarily, sooner or later. The time to do so is now when we have other nations by our side going into Syria. As for Russia and China, these two are reasonable opponents and will do what is best for them -- and the rabid Iranian regime is not much better for them as it is for the rest of us. And like us, Russia and China have given up all hope of taming it. It is foreseeable then that Russia and China will again watch as we spend our blood and treasure to knock out another troublesome regime in the world. A more pressing question is whether we have any stomach left for another war. Assad and the Iranian regime are betting that we don't. But then so did Saddam and Gaddafi.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-04 22:26

      Interestibg. Thank you. I hear you. The thing that irks me is the weak leadership in the West. Were the West to take a stand, in concert with the Arab League, Putin would almost have to step back. He'd then have far more to lose by standing by Assad. The isolationist Chiness regime, that's holds all that US debt and cannot afford a weakened US, would in all probability do nothing. Obama is more focused on his Ego, more intent on being re-elected than standing for what is right. The Iranian regime sees this. Deeply disappointing.

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-09-05 08:10

      @kafantaris Who is "we" and "us"? You sound like a paid shill!

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