Friday, August 17, 2012
Syria Refugee Crisis Getting Worse, Turkey and UN Says
As heavy clashes in Aleppo escalate, Turkish officials have begun to place the Syrian refugees in student dormitories due to a significant rise in the number of people seeking shelter in Turkey.
The U.N.’s refugee agency has said the current figure of nearly 150,000 people fleeing Syria’s civil war is expected to rise significantly, while a Turkish official expressed concern that a refugee crisis might be waiting at Turkey’s door if the flow of Syrian refugees continues as it has been in the last two days.
While the construction of new shelter camps continues in Turkey, authorities have had to place several thousand refugees in hotels and student dormitories in Gaziantep and Kahramanmaraş due to a lack of space at the shelter camps.
“If the flow of refugees continues like this, we might not be able to allow as many refugees to cross the border right away, because the construction of the other shelter camps will be finished in one month. Another option might be to place them in student dormitories and hotels,” a Turkish official told Hürriyet Daily News on Aug. 10.
Clashes continue in Aleppo and outside Damascus
Syrian government forces fought rebels outside the capital Damascus and in the northern city of Aleppo Aug. 10, as more civilians streamed across the border into neighboring Turkey to escape the civil war in their country.
Syrian rebels vowed to fight on in Aleppo, a day after being driven out of a key district under heavy shell fire by the army, which targeted other parts of the strategic city on Aug. 10, Agence France-Presse reported.
Exiled members of the opposition said Aleppo’s historic citadel, part of a UNESCO-listed world heritage site, had suffered damage in the bombardment of rebel-held areas that has accompanied the army’s ground offensive in Syria’s commercial capital, now in its third day.
A rebel commander, Hossam Abu Mohammed, said his men were still fighting in parts of Aleppo’s southwestern district of Salaheddin, after most fled on Thursday in the face of heavy bombing and advancing troops.
“We will not let Salaheddin go,” the Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) Abu Mohammed told Agence France-Presse by telephone, as the third day of the government’s offensive to take the city raged. The army again bombed parts of Salaheddin, as well as the Sakhur and Hanano districts in the east of the city, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that the latest violence has killed two civilians, among 11 killed nationwide. Just before dawn, a MiG 21 fighter jet dropped four bombs on rebel positions in Hanano.
U.N. refugee agency spokesman Adrian Edwards said the agency’s offices in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq have all reported large increases this week in the number of people who have registered as refugees or are in the process of being registered, according to a report from The Associated Press.
He told reporters on Aug. 10 in Geneva that in several countries, however, “we know there to be substantial refugee populations who have not yet registered.”
More than 6,000 new refugee arrivals have been counted in Turkey this week alone, many from the besieged city of Aleppo, Edwards said. Jordan has 45,869 refugees, Lebanon 36,841, and Iraq 13,587, he said.
Turkish officials, however, said 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived over the past 48 hours, increasing the number of refugees in Turkey to about 54,000. Of the 4,000 new refugees who have flowed across the Turkish border in the last two days, 2,000 are still waiting at the border area, an official said. “There may be a possibility of crisis in placing refugees if the refugee flow continues after the new shelter camp in Şanlıurfa is filled to capacity,” the Turkish official said.
Syrian refugees pouring into Turkey via the southern cities of Hatay and Kilis have been sent to the new shelter camp in Şanlıurfa, which is still under construction. More than 1,400 refugees have been placed in student dormitories in Kahramanmaraş, a Turkish official said. Previously 3,000 refugees had also been placed in student dormitories in the Islahiye district of Gaziantep, he said.
Hurriyet Daily News