High Commissioner for Refugees in Syria region, refugee numbers revised upwards in Turkey

Briefing Notes, 12 March 2013

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 12 March 2013, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, is in the region neighbouring Syria this week. Over the past couple of days he has been in Turkey, visiting urban and camp refugees in the Gazantiep region, and meeting government officials. Tomorrow he is travelling to Jordan, and will be visiting the Za'atri camp and a registration site in Irbid, before heading onwards to Lebanon on Thursday and Friday.

An important new development is that Turkey has begun registering Syrian refugees living outside refugee camps and in urban settings. Previously it had included in its official figures only those refugees living in the 17-government run camps numbering some 186,000 people. 40,000 refugees in urban areas have been registered to date under the new policy with a further 30,000 waiting for appointments to register. A consequence is that the number of registered refugees in Turkey is being revised upwards by some 70,000 people and now stands at 258,200.

During his visit to Turkey the High Commissioner has signed a cooperation agreement with the Prime Minister's Disaster Relief Agency (AFAD) to fund 10 registration centres. He also signed an accord with the Turkish Red Crescent on cooperation in logistics, emergency and contingency support to UNHCR's operations globally. UNHCR is funding an additional 18,500 tents through the Red Crescent.

Registration of refugees and camp management are coordinated by AFAD, with operational support from the Turkish Red Crescent and other agencies. UNHCR provides technical advice and assistance.

Including the revised numbers from Turkey, there are now 1,100,579 Syrians in the region who have either registered as refugees or who are being assisted as such. This comprises 340,524 in Jordan, 339,187 in Lebanon, 258,200 in Turkey, 110,663 in Iraq, 43,743 in Egypt, and 8262 in other parts of North Africa.

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The High Commissioner

António Guterres, who joined UNHCR on June 15, 2005, is the UN refugee agency's 10th High Commissioner.

Muazzez Ersoy

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Iraqi Children Go To School in Syria

UNHCR aims to help 25,000 refugee children go to school in Syria by providing financial assistance to families and donating school uniforms and supplies.

There are some 1.4 million Iraqi refugees living in Syria, most having fled the extreme sectarian violence sparked by the bombing of the Golden Mosque of Samarra in 2006.

Many Iraqi refugee parents regard education as a top priority, equal in importance to security. While in Iraq, violence and displacement made it difficult for refugee children to attend school with any regularity and many fell behind. Although education is free in Syria, fees associated with uniforms, supplies and transportation make attending school impossible. And far too many refugee children have to work to support their families instead of attending school.

To encourage poor Iraqi families to register their children, UNHCR plans to provide financial assistance to at least 25,000 school-age children, and to provide uniforms, books and school supplies to Iraqi refugees registered with UNHCR. The agency will also advise refugees of their right to send their children to school, and will support NGO programmes for working children.

UNHCR's ninemillion campaign aims to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for nine million refugee children by 2010.

Iraqi Children Go To School in Syria

Iraqi Refugees in Syria: 2,000 New Arrivals Daily

The UN refugee agency is increasingly alarmed over the continuing violence in Iraq and distressed about the lack of an international humanitarian response to deal with the massive numbers of people being displaced. After an assessment mission in November last year, UNHCR officials warned that the agency was facing an even larger humanitarian crisis than it had prepared for in 2002-03. But UNHCR and other organisations are sorely lacking in funds to cope with the growing numbers of displaced.

In an effort to fill the massive gap in funding, UNHCR in January 2007 launched a US$60 million appeal to cover its protection and assistance programmes for Iraqi refugees in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey, as well as non Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people within strife torn Iraq.

The longer the Iraq conflict goes on, the more difficult it will become for the hundreds of thousands of displaced and the communities that are trying to help them – both inside and outside Iraq. Because the burden on host communities and governments in the region is enormous, it is essential that the international community support humanitarian efforts.

Posted on 5 February 2007

Iraqi Refugees in Syria: 2,000 New Arrivals Daily

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