Countries neighbouring Syria feel the strain of large numbers of displaced persons

by zoejardiniere

05.10.2012 UNHCR have published a second regional response plan to the on-going refugee crisis emanating from Syria. In an announcement on Tuesday 2 October, UNHCR put the current number of refugees from Syria at 300,000 a three-fold increase since three months ago. The report comes along with the need to revise up estimates of required funds and capacity to cope with the refugee influx into neighbouring countries for the second time this year; estimates now put the potential total number of refugees in neighbouring countries up to 710,000 by the end of the year.

The report, published on 27th September, highlights a number of key challenges in terms of response to the crisis including the fact that 75% of the refugee flow comprises women and children, who are especially vulnerable and require specialised provisions. Furthermore, there is a need to prepare for the coming winter, which will present fresh challenges to a population primarily housed in tents.

Whilst the report emphasizes the generosity and hospitality that has characterised the response to refugees thus far in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq, there have been signs that the populations and governments of the region are reaching a point of saturation. Turkish authorities have stated that the fact that the number of refugees from Syria in Turkey is approaching 100,000 represents a ‘psychological threshold’ beyond which other solutions must be found for their accommodation. Meanwhile, the Jordanian public, according to a survey, have largely turned against the idea of allowing more refugees into their country.

Syrian refugees, who have already suffered arduously in their homeland and during their flight, are now also experiencing poor living conditions in the camps. Riots in protest at conditions have occurred at Za’atari camp in Jordan and there are fears that, despite fresh pledges of aid money, such as the £1 million promised on Wednesday by the British government, the situation will get worse in the winter rains before it gets better.