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27 February 2013

A senior official with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today warned of the enormous humanitarian impact of the ongoing Syria crisis, particularly on civilians who have been displaced and face threats such as gender-based violence. “This displacement is not only about loss of homes and economic security. It is also, for many, accompanied by gender-based crimes, deliberate victimization of women and children and a frightening array of assaults on human dignity,” the Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Erika Feller, told the Human Rights Council in Geneva.


25 February 2013

Quietly but inexorably, a human tide has crept into Lebanon, Syria’s smallest and most vulnerable neighbor. (..) The United Nations counts more than 305,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, but local officials and aid workers say the actual number is about 400,000, saturating this country of four million. The Lebanese government — by design — has largely left them to fend for themselves. Deeply divided over Syria, haunted by memories of an explosive refugee crisis a generation ago, it has mostly ignored the problem, dumping it on overwhelmed communities like Qaa. (..) Lebanon’s refugee crisis does not match the familiar image of vast, centralized tent camps and armies of foreign aid organizations. It is nowhere, and everywhere.


22 February 2013

A growing exodus to Jordan is leading to overcrowding in refugee facilities, a UN official warned on Thursday, calling for an “ambitious” plan to establish several emergency camps. “We are averaging 2,500 to 3,000 persons per night and we have to find accommodation for them,” said Andrew Harper, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) representative in Jordan. (..) Plans to open the country’s second camp and a third 50,000-capacity camp some 20 kilometres west of Azraq, have been undermined by an ongoing funding gap, with the UN reportedly receiving less than 20 per cent of a record $1.5 billion pledged by the international community last month.


21 February 2013

The numbers of Syrian refugees, particularly in Jordan and Lebanon are increasing in a dramatic fashion with Jordan receiving some 2,000 a day, according to David Kaatrud of the World Food Programme (WFP). As a result, the agency has begun scaling up its operations to meet the requirements for the summer and beyond. But he says there are resource constraints as the populations arrive in Jordan and Lebanon in large numbers and require food assistance while waiting to be registered.


21 February 2013

A few days ago (16 February) I took part in a joint UN mission to Karameh, in Syria's north-western Idleb Province, to deliver much needed relief supplies to thousands of displaced people. (..) Nearly 25,000 people - displaced from their homes by the on-going conflict in Syria - are estimated to be living in makeshift shelters in locations near the Turkish border, including Karameh, El Qah and Atmeh.


21 February 2013

Jordan is preparing to open the country’s third Syrian camp, officials said on Wednesday, in order to meet a refugee influx that has reached “historic” levels. According to Anmar Hmoud, Jordanian government spokesman for Syrian refugee affairs, authorities have begun preparations for a new Syrian refugee camp in order to meet a refugee flow that has reached an average of 2,500 persons per day. (..) The funding gap has lead to repeated delays in the opening of the country’s second camp at Mreijeeb — with officials now hoping to open the 30,000-capacity facility next month.


21 February 2013

Aleppo is home to more than 80 percent of Syria’s Armenian community, and those who are still there remain at the center of the battle for control of the country. (..) People there [in Aleppo] are dealing with shortages of food, medicine and electricity during the coldest winter in the Middle East in two decades.


18 February 2013

Time has forgotten parts of southern Lebanon, even if war and occupation have not. (..) All of Lebanon’s peripheries are underdeveloped, and in fact, the north and east of the country - now sheltering tens of thousands of Syrian refugees - are even worse off. (..) But as the Syrian refugee crisis in northern and eastern parts of the country has distracted donors, aid workers and the government alike, the pleas in this remote and delicate part of the country are falling - for the most part - on deaf ears.


15 February 2013

In Aleppo, Syria's largest city and a once-bustling commercial hub, scenes of people searching through big rubbish bins are now commonplace. They are collecting plastic bags and other flammable material they can use to warm themselves in the chilly Syrian winter. (..) Today, boots originally made for the government soldiers now shelling rebel-held neighbourhoods have become a means to keep families in these areas warm.


15 February 2013

Dweik, his wife and child are among some 150 families who have returned to Gaza from Syria, according to the Action Group for Palestinians of Syria (begun by a number of Palestinian figures and NGOs in response to the flight of refugees from Syria). (..) Many, though not all, of those fleeing Syria have extended families in Gaza that offer some support. The returnees also have access to the same UNRWA-provided services as all other Palestinian refugees in Gaza: food, education, health care.