VOICES FROM THE FIELDTHE IRC BLOG
Desperate conditions for Syrians fleeing conflict as refugee numbers double
November 26, 2012 by Ned Colt
|Syrian boys at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan fill water jugs at a communal tap. The IRC is doing its part to support thousands of Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. Photo: Ned Colt/IRC|
The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) says the number of Syrian refugees fleeing conflict has almost doubled in the past two months. UNHCR reports that there are now close to 450,000 Syrians who have registered or are intending to register to receive humanitarian aid.
However, it’s widely recognized that hundreds of thousands more Syrians in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey have not registered and — as a result — are not officially counted. There are many reasons why Syrians don’t register, including difficulty in accessing registration points. More than half the Syrian refugee population is comprised of “urban refugees,” those who live outside a camp environment and are therefore more difficult to reach. (For more on the urban refugee phenomenon please see this striking new audiovisual report)
In Iraq, the number of registered refugees has more than tripled since September 1, while in Jordan some 500 Syrians are now arriving daily.
“The conditions for Syrian refugees are increasingly desperate and heartbreaking,” says Luan Meraku, who heads up the International Rescue Committee’s Syria response. “That’s particularly the case for urban refugees. Almost all fled the country with nothing, and now have no money to pay for food, housing, or heat.”
Inside Syria, the situation is similarly dire as winter settles in. UNHCR estimates that as many as 2.5 million Syrians (more than 10 percent of the population) are in need of humanitarian aid. And the global appeal to provide aid to Syrians is acutely underfunded. The United Nations and humanitarian organizations like the IRC are seeking a total of 348-million dollars to help refugees and civilians in need inside Syria, but to date, the appeal is less than 50 percent funded.
Currently, the IRC is doing its part to support thousands of Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, providing medical aid, help for women and girl victims of violence, and ensuring refugees have access to their legal rights.