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UNHCR takes Prince Charles round Syrian refugee camp in Jordan

News Stories, 13 March 2013

© UNHCR photo
Britain's Prince Charles is briefed by UNHCR's Paul Stromberg during the tour today of the King Abdullah Park camp.

AMMAN, Jordan, March 13 (UNHCR) Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, on Wednesday hailed the work of UNHCR and its partners in helping tens of thousands of Syrian refugees in Jordan during a landmark visit to a camp near the border with Syria.

Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, paid an hour-long visit to the small King Abdullah Park camp in a bid to highlight the human cost of the crisis in Syria, which has forced more than 1.1 million people to flee the country over the past two years, with about one third of them in Jordan.

"It's remarkable what UNHCR and others are doing to try and deal with this unbelievably difficult and heart-breaking situation," Prince Charles said after touring the camp's health clinic and aid distribution points as guests of UNHCR. Established in June last year, the site hosts around 1,000 Syrian refugees in pre-fabricated shelters.

The Prince of Wales also expressed "enormous respect for what Jordan and the humanitarian community have done for refugees … The Jordanian people are truly remarkable in what they manage to cope with."

He described the inflow as "a desperate situation" for Jordan. "If you think about it, it's the equivalent of the UK having 7 million people descend on them."

The royal couple, who were accompanied by Jordan's Prince Ghazi bin Mohammad, also examined the pre-fabricated shelters provided by UNHCR to Syrian refugees and called on one family. The father, 55-year-old Musa, told Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall that he decided to flee Syria with his wife and five children last September after he was arrested and tortured.

Prince Charles also talked to staff from UNHCR, which organized the visit to the camp. "We are grateful for their support and for the assistance of the United Kingdom to the Syrian refugee crisis," said Paul Stromberg, UNHCR's deputy representative in Jordan. "Today was an opportunity to show His Royal Highness and the Duchess firsthand the difference the aid can make," he added.

The visit by Prince Charles and his wife coincided with a visit to Jordan by UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, who in Amman earlier in the day urged donor nations to set aside special funds for the Syria crisis, warning of disaster if funding levels were not increased.

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Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

As world concern grows over the plight of hundreds of thousands of displaced Syrians, including more than 200,000 refugees, UNHCR staff are working around the clock to provide vital assistance in neighbouring countries. At the political level, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres was due on Thursday (August 30) to address a closed UN Security Council session on Syria.

Large numbers have crossed into Lebanon to escape the violence in Syria. By the end of August, more than 53,000 Syrians across Lebanon had registered or received appointments to be registered. UNHCR's operations for Syrian refugees in Tripoli and the Bekaa Valley resumed on August 28 after being briefly suspended due to insecurity.

Many of the refugees are staying with host families in some of the poorest areas of Lebanon or in public buildings, including schools. This is a concern as the school year starts soon. UNHCR is urgently looking for alternative shelter. The majority of the people looking for safety in Lebanon are from Homs, Aleppo and Daraa and more than half are aged under 18. As the conflict in Syria continues, the situation of the displaced Syrians in Lebanon remains precarious.

Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

Turkish Camps Provide Shelter to 90,000 Syrian Refugees

By mid-September, more than 200,000 Syrian refugees had crossed the border into Turkey. UNHCR estimates that half of them are children, and many have seen their homes destroyed in the conflict before fleeing to the border and safety.

The Turkish authorities have responded by building well-organized refugee camps along southern Turkey's border with Syria. These have assisted 120,000 refugees since the crisis conflict erupted in Syria. There are currently 12 camps hosting 90,000 refugees, while four more are under construction. The government has spent approximately US$300 million to date, and it continues to manage the camps and provide food and medical services.

The UN refugee agency has provided the Turkish government with tents, blankets and kitchen sets for distribution to the refugees. UNHCR also provides advice and guidelines, while staff from the organization monitor voluntary repatriation of refugees.

Most of the refugees crossing into Turkey come from areas of northern Syria, including the city of Aleppo. Some initially stayed in schools or other public buildings, but they have since been moved into the camps, where families live in tents or container homes and all basic services are available.

Turkish Camps Provide Shelter to 90,000 Syrian Refugees

Displaced inside Syria: UNHCR and its Dedicated Staff help the Needy

The violence inside Syria continues to drive people from their homes, with some seeking shelter elsewhere in their country and others risking the crossing into neighbouring countries. The United Nations estimates that up to 4 million people are in need of help, including some 2 million believed to be internally displaced.

The UN refugee agency has 350 staff working inside Syria. Despite the insecurity, they continue to distribute vital assistance in the cities of Damascus, Aleppo, Al Hassakeh and Homs. Thanks to their work and dedication, more than 350,000 people have received non-food items such as blankets, kitchen sets and mattresses. These are essential items for people who often flee their homes with no more than the clothes on their backs. Cash assistance has been given to more than 10,600 vulnerable Syrian families.

Displaced inside Syria: UNHCR and its Dedicated Staff help the Needy

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