With armed violence continuing unabated in parts of Syria, thousands of people are fleeing their homes on a daily basis and seeking refuge in schools, mosques and public buildings, as well as in neighbouring countries, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported today.
Violence continues to rage in Syria’s most populous city, Aleppo, with local organizations registering each day about 300 displaced families in need of urgent assistance, a UNHCR spokesperson, Melissa Fleming, told reporters in Geneva.
“In the 32 schools identified, between 250 and 350 people were packed inside while some 7,000 people are taking refuge in university dormitories,” she said.
UNHCR’s Aleppo office is severely constrained by insecurity but is continuing to liaise with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and other organisation to identify the needs of the most affected, said Ms. Fleming.
The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent are estimating that some 200,000 people fled Aleppo and the surrounding areas over the weekend, she added.
Meanwhile, UNHCR’s office in the Syrian capital, Damascus, is operating at 50 per cent of its capacity due to restrictions imposed by the security environment.
“The office is conducting limited visits to affected areas in and around Damascus. Nine hotlines dedicated to take calls from the refugee population are operating and continue to be a key source of information gathering and dissemination in terms of protection concerns and access to services,” said Ms. Fleming.
“Many callers are reporting a lack of safety; fear of ongoing shelling; lack of access to food, water and sanitation, especially in areas such as Sayyeda Zainab and families unable to leave the violent areas who are requesting help to assist in relocation,” she added.
Also, non-Iraqi foreigners without documents telephone saying they are unable to relocate and express fears of physical harm and being targeted.
More than 70,000 people from Syria have sought formal protection in Turkey since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began some 17 months ago, according to UNHCR. This includes growing numbers of people from Aleppo – reportedly more than 2,000 in the last four days.
As of 26 July, 44,188 people are currently being assisted by the Government of Turkey, which is managing eight camps for displaced people in four different provinces.
The Jordanian Government estimates that some 150,000 Syrian refugees have entered the Kingdom since March last year, with 38,883 of them receiving protection and assistance, while the rest are not registered.
Ms. Fleming noted that Jordan opened a new camp in record time on Sunday to ease pressures on border sites hosting thousands of Syrian refugees as the outflow from Syria continues.
There are 34,096 displaced Syrians receiving protection and assistance in Lebanon through the efforts of the Government, the UN and non-governmental partners, of which 31,596 are registered. In Iraq, the number of Syrian refugees, mainly Kurdish, continues to increase, with some 12,073 currently registered.