UNHCR concerned about Syrians stuck at border, reiterates call for international support
News Stories, 24 May 2013
Newly arrived Syrian refugees in Jordan after crossing the border. Numbers of trying to flee are growing.
GENEVA, May 24 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency on Friday called on countries around Syria to keep their borders open for refugees while stressing that "urgent and robust" international support for host countries and aid organizations was vital.
Amid worsening violence inside Syria, UNHCR expects the number of refugees – currently more than 1.5 million – to continue climbing steeply and put more pressure on host countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq, UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming told journalists in Geneva.
While commending the governments of neighbouring countries for hosting so many people, she said UNHCR was concerned about reports that many Syrians trying to flee might be stuck at the border in extremely dangerous areas. "We are also disturbed by accounts indicating there may be restrictions imposed on those wishing to leave Syria," Fleming said.
The spokesperson reiterated a call on all parties to protect civilians and allow safe passage for those wishing to flee. She said that while UNHCR acknowledged the legitimate concerns of neighbouring countries, "it is essential that civilians fleeing violence have access to safety under all circumstances also in accordance to international law."
She said UNHCR urged all countries, not just those bordering Syria, to keep their borders open to offer protection to Syrian refugees.
Fleming also said it was critical that the international community "provides urgent and robust support to refugee hosting countries and humanitarian operations to enable them to continue to receive and address the growing needs of Syrian refugees. These countries should not be left to shoulder the burden alone."
UNHCR and its partners are stepping up efforts and appealing for new funds to support the refugee population with life-saving and life-sustaining assistance.
over 4 million Syrians are now refugees
2008 Nansen Refugee Award
The UN refugee agency has named the British coordinator of a UN-run mine clearance programme in southern Lebanon and his civilian staff, including almost 1,000 Lebanese mine clearers, as the winners of the 2008 Nansen Refugee Award.
Christopher Clark, a former officer with the British armed forces, became manager of the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre-South Lebanon (UNMACC-SL) n 2003. His teams have detected and destroyed tons of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and tens of thousands of mines. This includes almost 145,000 submunitions (bomblets from cluster-bombs) found in southern Lebanon since the five-week war of mid-2006.
Their work helped enable the return home of almost 1 million Lebanese uprooted by the conflict. But there has been a cost – 13 mine clearers have been killed, while a further 38 have suffered cluster-bomb injuries since 2006. Southern Lebanon is once more thriving with life and industry, while the process of reconstruction continues apace thanks, in large part, to the work of the 2008 Nansen Award winners.
2008 Nansen Refugee Award
Crisis in Iraq: Displacement
UNHCR and its partners estimate that out of a total population of 26 million, some 1.9 million Iraqis are currently displaced internally and more than 2 million others have fled to nearby countries. While many people were displaced before 2003, increasing numbers of Iraqis are now fleeing escalating sectarian, ethnic and general violence. Since January 2006, UNHCR estimates that more than 800,000 Iraqis have been uprooted and that 40,000 to 50,000 continue to flee their homes every month. UNHCR anticipates there will be approximately 2.3 million internally displaced people within Iraq by the end of 2007. The refugee agency and its partners have provided emergency assistance, shelter and legal aid to displaced Iraqis where security has allowed.
In January 2007, UNHCR launched an initial appeal for US$60 million to fund its Iraq programme. Despite security issues for humanitarian workers inside the country, UNHCR and partners hope to continue helping up to 250,000 of the most vulnerable internally displaced Iraqis and their host communities
Posted on 12 June 2007
Crisis in Iraq: Displacement
Lebanon: Fishing provides a lifeline for Syrian refugees
Samir and Mohammed fled the war in Syria and are seeking safety in Lebanon, where refugees are not allowed to work. They found a lifeline and a hobby in fishing, a skill they learned from local fishermen in the coastal town of Tripoli.
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: Refugees Onward Journey
A transit centre at Vinojug, on FYR Macedonia's border with Greece is where the refugees and migrants pass through on their journey further into Europe. Here UNHCR and partner organisations provide food, water, medical care, psycho-social support and information for refugees who take the train towards the border with Serbia. UNHCR also provides information on how to access the asylum system in the country. In recent weeks, an average of 6,300 refugees pass through the camp every day, yesterday that number grew to 10,000, a record.
Croatia: Sunday Train Arrivals
On Sunday a train of 1800 refugees and migrants made their way north from the town of Tovarnik on Croatia's Serbian border. They disembarked at Cakovec just south of Slovenia. Most of the people are Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi. Their route to Western Europe has been stalled due to the closing of Hungarian borders. Now the people have changed their path that takes through Slovenia. Croatia granted passage to over 10,000 refugees this weekend. Croatian authorities asked Slovenia to take 5000 refugees and migrants per day. Slovenia agreed to take half that number. More than a thousand of desperate people are being backed up as result, with more expected to arrive later Monday.