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U.N. Details Flows of Syrian Refugees

posted Sep 11, 2012, 4:07 PM by Syrian Transition   [ updated Sep 11, 2012, 4:07 PM ]
11 Sept 2012 (New York Times) As fighting continues in Syria, an “extraordinary acceleration” in movements of refugees is compounding the difficulties for humanitarian relief efforts, the United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday.

The agency said the number of people fleeing the country jumped from 18,500 in June to 35,000 in July to 102,000 in August.

Around 2,000 Syrians are crossing daily into Jordan amid continuing air and artillery attacks on towns near the southern border, Adrian Edwards, a spokesman for the agency, said.

Thousands more Syrians are reported to be moving south from village to village seeking safety from the fighting before crossing into Jordan, he said.

The exodus has pushed the number of Syrian refugees to more than a quarter of a million, Mr. Edwards said. Of the total, Jordan now has more than 85,000 refugees and Turkey more than 78,000, the refugee agency said, counting those who have registered or are awaiting registration with the agency. But many more refugees have not registered, and both countries count far greater numbers.

The agency said more than 10,000 were waiting to cross into Turkey.

The latest estimates came as António Guterres, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, and the actress Angelina Jolie, a special envoy for the agency, toured the Za’atri camp in northern Jordan to draw attention to the needs of the swelling refugee population.

The camp, which opened on a windswept patch of desert close to the Syrian border at the end of July, already has 28,000 refugees, Mr. Edwards said.

Faced with a relentless flood of people fleeing the fighting, United Nations officials are talking to Jordanian authorities about finding new locations in less harsh surroundings for facilities to receive them.

Providing another snapshot of deteriorating living conditions inside Syria, the World Health Organization said that a United Nations mission to Homs last week found that more than half a million people needed aid, including health care, food and water. The mission found that the biggest hospital in Homs had been destroyed and only 6 of the 12 public hospitals and 8 of the 32 private hospitals were still functional, although with severely reduced capacity.

At least half the doctors had left Homs and only three surgeons now remained for an area with a population of more than two million. Many health facilities are staffed by volunteers without medical or health training and faced critical shortages of medicines, a spokesman for the World Health Organization, Tarik Jasarevic, said.