UN: Syrian refugees now more than 3 million
Source: VOA News
By: Lisa Schlein
GENEVA – The U.N. refugee agency says more than three years of civil war in Syria has forced three million people to flee their homeland, and the fighting is only intensifying. UNHCR reports the flight from Syria has created the world’s largest population of refugees under that U.N. agency’s care.
The U.N. refugee agency calls the Syrian crisis ”the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era.” And as bad as things are now, the agency predicts they only will get even worse.
UNHCR reports one in every eight people in Syria’s prewar population has fled across an international border seeking safety. During the past year alone, one million Syrians have arrived as refugees in neighboring countries.
UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming says the refugees arrive in a shocking state – exhausted, frightened and broke. She says the refugees flee Syria as a last resort. Most people have been on the run for a year or more – taking shelter in one village after another until they driven to leave the country entirely.
Fleming says there are worrying signs that escaping Syria is becoming more difficult for refugees.
“We have been told that many people are forced to pay bribes at armed checkpoints proliferating along the borders, and that the price for smugglers – and many have to resort to transport using smugglers in order to get out – is becoming very steep,” she said. “It may not sound like a lot: around $100 per person, in many cases more. But for Syrians now who have had no work for many years, this is absolutely, hugely expensive.”
The vast majority of refugees are in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, and their numbers are straining those nations’ economies. A recent UNHCR survey finds more than four in five Syrian emigres are living outside refugee camps, struggling to make a living in towns and cities. The U.N. says more than a third (38%) of refugees live in sub-standard shelters.
Despite the hardships that confront Syria’s neighbors, the UNHCR spokeswoman says Lebanon continues to keep its borders open; Jordan and Turkey screen Syrian refugees before admitting them, because of security concerns.
Iraq’s central government has lost control of a large portion of its territory to militants from the Islamic State group and other extremists, so its border is now closed to Syrian refugees. Fleming says the U.N. estimates more than a third of Iraq, including Anbar province, is now in the hands of Baghdad’s enemies.
“In the Kurdistan region, that border has been closed also for some time, except for Syrians returning to Syria,” said Fleming. “And in fact about 300 Syrians are actually returning to Syria every day. So this gives you a picture of the situation. When you actually decide to return to Syria – or to flee to Syria, as some Iraqis have – things must be pretty bad in Iraq.”
The U.N. refugee agency reports almost half of all Syrians have now been forced to abandon their homes and flee for their lives. In addition to the three million who have left the country, an estimated 6.5 million people still living in Syria are “displaced” – forced or pressured to leave their homes. More than half of those internal refugees are children.
The United Nations estimates nearly 200,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011.
Posted on September 1, 2014, in NEWS and tagged 3 million, bad, civil war, crisis, emergency, era, homeland, humanitarian, largest, lisa schlein, million, more, news, now, People, population, read, refugees, reports, situation, syria, syrian, syrian crisis, syrian refugees, than, un, un agency, voa news, world. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.