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VOICES FROM THE FIELDTHE IRC BLOG
Syria crisis has displaced 500,000 says UN; more families cross border
June 1, 2012
By The IRC
Syrian refugee Fawaz now lives in Jordan with his wife and nine children in a two room structure that had been abandoned for years before they found it. The roof leaks, and while there's a makeshift toilet, there's no plumbing. They've tapped into a neighbor's utilities for electricity and drinking water. There's very little housing left in Jordan near its border with Syria, and rental prices have more than doubled in the past year due to the influx of refugees.
Syrian citizens continue to flee their homes and villages to escape a surge of violence that began earlier this week with the brutal killings of more than 100 people in Houla, many of them women and children.
The number of internally displaced people in Syria has more than doubled to 500,000 since the beginning of the April cease fire, according to the UN. Tens of thousands more have fled to neighboring countries including Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey with some 4,800 refugees registering with UN regional centers in the last week alone.
The IRC is supporting displaced families in Jordan, where an estimated 30,000 Syrian refugees were living before this week’s escalating violence. While these famlies have made it to relative safety, living conditions remain challenging. As IRC Media Officer Ned Colt reported earlier, many of these families are scattered across cities, where they remain difficult to find and assist.
For journalists, the standard refugee scenario is the classic one. It’s where thousands of refugees are packed into tented border camps. That’s how Turkey has responded to its influx of Syrians. It’s a different scenario in Lebanon and Jordan, where other Syrians have fled. Neither country has large camps, and most of the refugees I speak with say, if there were, they would avoid them. Increasingly in our urbanized world, refugees are scattered across cities. It’s a phenomenon aid workers refer to as “urban refugees,” and it’s becoming the standard in contemporary humanitarian crises, where there’s not a coordinated, proactive response to a massive and sudden geographic shift of humanity. See full story.
Below are some of the displaced families photographed by Colt on a March visit to Jordan.
Syrian refugee women in Jordan await a distribution of humanitarian aid. There are an estimated 30,000 Syrian refugees now in Jordan, and more continue to flood into the country every day.
A Syrian woman stands outside an aid distribution site with boxes containing cleaning supplies. The vast majority of Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan with nothing, and are dependent on humanitarian aid for all their essential requirements.
Almost all Syrian refugees in Jordan are currently living in urban areas, clustered near the border. This makes them harder to reach than those who've gathered in formal tented camps.
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