Number of Syrian refugees tops 1.5 million – UN

Russian aid to Syria

The UN said the figure could be higher.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the number of Syrian civilians who have fled their country to escape conflict has passed the 1.5 million mark.

UNHCR on Friday warned that the widening gap between the needs and resources available was becoming a huge challenge.

“The Syrian conflict continues to have a devastating impact on the lives of those who are forced to flee,’’ the spokesperson for UNHCR, Dan McNorton said.

He added that the real number was probably much higher, owing to “concerns that some Syrians have disregarded registration in their new abodes.”

Mr. McNorton stressed that while UNHCR continued to respond to the emergency needs of those in need inside Syria, the widening gap between the needs and resources available was a growing challenge.

The agency has registered close to one million refugees since the beginning of the year and about 250,000 people each month.

Early next month, the UN and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are due to announce a revised funding appeal for the Syria crisis.

“Refugees tell us the increased fighting and changing of control in towns and villages, in particular in conflict areas, results in more and more civilians deciding to leave.

“Over the past four months we have seen a rapid deterioration in the crisis when compared to the previous 20 months of this conflict,” Mr. McNorton said.

Inside Syria, UNHCR continued in the week to follow up on the needs and the situation of several hundred families displaced in the village of Zamarin, on the outskirts of Tartus, a city on the Mediterranean coast.

“They fled Banias district in Latakia governorate, where clashes erupted in early May. Some families found shelter in a mosque and local schools, but majority have been hosted by families in Zamarin.

“These families received UNHCR emergency relief assistance last week.

“The items include blankets, mattresses and hygiene kits. Many families have reportedly returned to Banias, where children have to take their examinations soon,’’ Mr. McNorton said.

UNHCR has been present in Tartus since early April and is permanently present in five other cities, including Damascus, Aleppo, Hassakeh and Homs.

Overall in Syria, UNHCR’s relief assistance has reached 860,000 displaced Syrians since the beginning of the year.



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