Two to three thousand refugees flee Syria every day. Exhausted from traveling with what little they own and devastated by the many losses they have incurred along the way – their home, their country, every shred of security they ever knew and a shocking number of family members – they pour into bordering countries.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that the number of refugees who have fled Syria will total nearly one million some time in the first half of 2013. They are seeking shelter in Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and even Egypt, while aid agencies struggle to provide the most basic lifesaving assistance.
According to the Regional Response Plan for Syrian Refugees report released by UNHCR, there are presently 562,950 refugees registered as of 27 December. This includes 4,271 Syrian refugees registered in North Africa. That is seven times more Syrians registered in December than there were in May, and scores more have not have registered with aid organizations.
Earlier this month Green Prophet visited the Zaatari refugee camp at the border between Jordan and Syria. Our correspondent Joseph Mayton talked to several families who were huddled together to corral body heat. They told him that blankets are the number one item on their wish lists. But their optimism belies a host of other needs that have to be met.
“This massive humanitarian crisis requires urgent support from governments, businesses and private individuals, said Panos Moumtzis, UNHCR’s Regional Coordinator for Syrian Refugees. “Unless these funds come quickly we will not be able to fully respond to the lifesaving needs of civilians who flee Syria every hour of the day – many in a truly desperate condition.”
UNICEF issued an urgent appeal for USD1 billion earlier in December. Once secured, these funds will be distributed to the 55 non government organizations (NGOs) planning ahead for one of the largest human exoduses in recorded history.
Sadly, children are among the most tragic victims of the ongoing and bloody strife in Syria.
“Children make up roughly half of the refugees crowded into camps and host communities across five countries, and their numbers rise inexorably,” said Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“The evolving situation on the ground has outpaced our efforts to raise the necessary funds. Today, a further response to the desperate plight of Syrian children is once more urgently required.”
Image of Syrian refugees entering Turkey, Shutterstock