More than half-million Syrian refugees in region: UN
The number of Syrian refugees registered in neighbouring countries and North Africa has passed half a million, the UN's refugee body said Tuesday, adding that many more have not come forward to seek help.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said it had either registered or was in the process of registering 509,550 Syrians in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and North Africa
"And these numbers are currently climbing by more than 3,000 a day," UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told reporters in Geneva.
She described how close to 1,000 Syrian refugees had crossed into Jordan alone in the past two nights, arriving "with soaked clothing and mud-covered shoes due to heavy rainfall."
More elderly and small children were also arriving in Jordan, including 22 newborn infants who entered the country on the night of December 9 alone.
As of Monday, there were 154,387 Syrian refugees registered or in the process of being registered in Lebanon, 142,664 in Jordan, 136,319 in Turkey, 64,449 in Iraq and 11,740 in North Africa, according to the UNHCR.
"In addition to those already registered or awaiting registration, most of these neighbouring countries and North Africa also have large numbers of Syrians who have yet to come forward and seek help," Fleming said.
Jordan, she pointed out, estimates there are some 100,000 Syrians in the country who are not registered, while Turkey says more than 70,000 Syrians are living outside its 14 camps.
"The numbers of those struggling to live on the local economy and who eventually come forward to register are expected to increase as. . . resources are depleted and host communities and families can no longer support them," she said.
While all the registered Syrian refugees in Turkey were living in camps, Fleming pointed out that across the region around 60 percent of refugees were not in camps.
Most of them were instead living in rental housing, with host families or in various types of collective centres, she said, pointing out that there were no camps in Lebanon and North Africa.
Having the refugees so spread out was "a challenge," she said, stressing that in Lebanon for instance registered refugees were living in some 500 different municipalities.
Since the violence erupted in March 2011, more than 42,000 people have been killed in Syria, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
© 2012 AFP