Nearly 150,000 Syrian refugees seek UN help
GENEVA (AP) — A rising tide of civilians fleeing Syria's violence is hitting four neighboring countries where almost 150,000 are being helped in camps run by the U.N. refugee agency and its partners, officials said Friday.
That figure counts only Syrians who have registered or are in the process of registering as refugees. Officials acknowledge the real number of Syrian refugees is likely above 200,000 since tens of thousands are believed to have not yet registered with authorities.
In late June, U.N. agencies estimated they would need $193 million to help 185,000 refugees from Syria by the end of 2012.
Spokesman Adrian Edwards told reporters Friday in Geneva that the U.N. refugee agency's offices in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq have all reported big increases this week in the number of registrants.
As of Thursday night, the agency had taken note of 146,667 such people — 50,227 in Turkey, 45,869 in Jordan, 36,841 in Lebanon and 13,730 in Iraq.
"In several countries, we know there to be (additional) substantial refugee numbers, but these people have not yet registered," Edwards said.
There were more than 6,000 new arrivals in Turkey this week alone, many from the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo and surrounding villages, while others came from Idlib and Latakia. "Where fighting happens, we tend to see the consequences," he added.
Turkey has nine sites, including a new camp this week at Akcakale, for its fast-growing refugee population, of which 72 percent is women and children. It has notified U.N. and other aid officials that it intends to double its capacity by building enough camps to hold 100,000 refugees.
Jordan, meanwhile, is straining to build more camps to accommodate refugees from Syria's south, where the uprising against President Bashar Assad's government began in March 2011. An estimated 4,000 Syrians arrived in Jordan on one recent night alone.
The International Organization for Migration said in a report Friday that more than 1,100 third-country nationals have sought its help to return home from Damascus and that 25 embassies — including those of Indonesia, Sudan and Yemen — have asked it to arrange travel out of Syria for another 3,011 people.