Up to 335,000 people have fled Syria violence - UNHCR

ABU DHABI Tue Oct 9, 2012 5:07pm BST

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Up to 335,000 Syrian refugees have registered with the United Nations, ten times more than in March, but the real figure could be as high as 500,000, a U.N. refugee agency official said on Tuesday.

The UNHCR said last month that up to 700,000 refugees may flee the violence in Syria by the end of the year, four times higher than its June prediction.

Most of those fleeing are taking refuge in neighbouring Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

Some Syrians are relying on their own resources and do not declare themselves as refugees. Many are reluctant to register as they worry it could impact the safety of family still inside Syria, Panos Moumtzis, Regional Refugee Coordinator at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, told reporters in Abu Dhabi.

The international community has donated $141.5 million since March in response to appeals by U.N. agencies and humanitarian partners, but this is only a third of the estimated amount required to cover basic needs of Syrian refugees, he said.

"The humanitarian support ... does not match the speed at which the situation is unfolding," he said.

Moumtzis and Radhouane Nouicer, the U.N. Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria, were in the Gulf Arab region to meet with officials and aid organisations in order to streamline relief efforts, he said.

"These countries are extremely generous in their funding, but we just want to sit down with them and find ways to be more coordinated, to avoid duplication and so on," Moumtzis said.

Nouicer said the number of Syrians displaced inside the country was estimated at 1.2 million, but that was expected to rise as the fighting intensifies.

"We don't have accurate information on what is happening in Aleppo at the moment as parts of the city are not accessible to us," he said. "But once the situation there stabilises the number of displaced is likely to increase."

(Reporting By Raissa Kasolowsky, editing by Diana Abdallah)

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