Every day, two to three thousand refugees are crossing from Syria into neighboring countries including Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.
"Many refugees are arriving with only the clothes on their backs," said Panos Moumtzis, UNHCR's regional coordinator for Syrian Refugees. "Some have been displaced many times before leaving Syria. They need humanitarian assistance from day one."
The continued violence in Syria has prompted humanitarian agencies to prepare for a further increase in the numbers of refugees, taking into account the impact on refugee-hosting countries and communities. Whereas the March appeal projected an estimated 100,000 Syrians becoming refugees by the end of this year (a number that was passed in July), the latest appeal estimates up to 700,000 Syrian refugees in neighboring countries by December 31.
There are 294,000 Syrian refugees registered or awaiting registration in neighboring countries, compared to 41,500 Syrians in March, when UNHCR and its partners issued a first appeal. This sevenfold increase in the number of refugees has brought about a surge in the humanitarian response and a vastly expanded plan of action to respond to the needs of Syrian refugees as well as future arrivals.
"Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey have set the example, keeping their borders open for Syrians fleeing violence. The neighboring countries cannot do this alone. The international community must continue to demonstrate solidarity," Moumtzis stressed.
Humanitarian agencies have scaled-up assistance in response to the increase in numbers and needs of refugees, with an increasing sense of urgency as winter approaches, with half the Syrian refugee population living in refugee camps, the majority in tents.
Za'atri camp in Jordan opened late July and today hosts some 32,000 Syrian refugees. Meanwhile in Iraq, Domiz camp in northern Iraq hosts more than 27,000 Syrian refugees. In Turkey, which assumes total responsibility for the refugee camps, the vast majority of refugees – close to 88,000 – are living in 13 camps.
In Lebanon, most refugees are living in rented apartments or with families. As refugees continue to arrive, there are increasing concerns over lack of available shelter. In Jordan, over half of the refugee population is living in rented apartments or with host families, but new arrivals are required to live in the camp.
Women and children make up 75% of the refugee population. Education and health care are both priorities in the plan.
UNHCR is at the forefront of the delivery of humanitarian assistance to refugees and host communities across the region, but will need far more support to deal with the number of refugees, which is growing daily.
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