Syrian refugees number more than half a million | News | DW | 11.12.2012
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Syrian refugees number more than half a million

More than half a million Syrian refugees are registered or are waiting to be registered in the Middle East and North Africa, the UN has said. There are also estimated to be large numbers of refugees still undocumented.

The number of Syrian refugees is growing by more than 3,000 people per day, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said Tuesday.

"509,559 Syrians are already registered [425,160] or in the process of being registered [84,399]," Chief spokesperson Melissa Fleming told reporters in Geneva.

According to the UNHCR's latest figures, there are 154,387 unregistered refugees in Lebanon, 142,664 in Turkey, and 136,319 in Iraq. There are a further 64,449 in Iraq and 11,740 in North Africa.

Only 40 percent of refugees live in camps. The rest stay "in rental housing, with host families, or in various types of collective centers and renovated accommodation," said Fleming.

Fleming said that in addition to people registered or awaiting registration, a number of Syrians have not yet come forward to seek help. Jordan estimates that it has around 100,000 unregistered refugees, while Turkey and Egypt estimate they have approximately 70,000.

Rapid refugee increase

Since the beginning of November, the number of registered refugees in the region has grown by about 3,200 per day, said the UNHCR. That includes new arrivals from Syria, and those who had already been in asylum countries but had not yet been registered.

"The number of those struggling to live on the local economy and who eventually come forward to register are expected to increase as the conflict in Syria continues, resources are depleted and host communities and families can no longer support them," said Fleming.

Some 1,000 Syrian refugees have entered Jordan in the last two nights alone.

"Syrian refugees arriving during recent bad weaqther, reached Jordan with soaked clothing and mud-covered shoes due to heavy rainfall," said Fleming. "UNHCR protection teams described the night time arrivals as fearful, freezing and without proper winter clothing."

In Jordan, 60 percent of recent arrivals are under the age of 18, with 22 newborn infants arriving Sunday night and a "number of unaccompanied minors," said the UNHCR.

An estimated 40,000 people have died in the Syrian civil war since the conflict began 20 months ago.