Refugees of the Syrian Civil War
|Total population:||2,923,034 estimated (July 2014)
2,884,651 registered by UNHCR(July 2014)
|Regions with significant populations
(Numbers do not include foreign citizens who left Syria)
|Lebanon||1,129,752 estimated (July 2014)
1,092,982 registered (July 2014) 1,000,000 Lebanese government estimate
|Jordan||606,993 estimated (July 2014)
606,993 registered (July 2014)
|Turkey||804,391 estimated (July 2014)
804,391 registered (July 2014) 700,000 Turkish government estimate
|Iraq||220,210 estimated(July 2014)
218,597 registered(July 2014)
|Egypt||138,321 estimated (July 2014)
|Algeria||25,000 estimated (Aug 2012)
10,000 "asylum seekers" (Jan 2013)
|Sweden||14,700 estimated (Sep 2013)|
|Bahrain||5,000 estimated (September 2012)|
|Germany||5,000–8,000 estimated (October 2013)|
|Libya||4,716 estimated (February 2013)|
|Italy||4,600 estimated (Sep 2013)|
|Bulgaria||More than 4,500 (Sep 2013)
As many as 10,000 expected by the end of 2013
|Argentina||300+ families (Aug 2013)|
|Russia||>1,000 (Feb 2014)|
|Gaza Strip||1,000 (Dec 2013)|
|Armenia||3,248 applied for visas (July 2012)|
|Nagorno-Karabakh Republic||70 families (April 2013)|
|France||500 estimated (October 2013)|
|United States||<100 (December 2013)|
|Language:||Arabic, Kurdish, Turkish, Armenian|
|Religion:||Sunni Islam, Christianity, Shia Islam|
Refugees of the Syrian Civil War, widely referred as the Syrian refugees, are Syrian nationals, who have fled Syria with the escalation of the Syrian Civil War. To escape the violence, roughly two and a half million Syrian refugees have fled the country to neighboring Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan, while thousands also ended up in more distant countries of the Caucasus, the Persian Gulf and North Africa.
In August 2012, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that the number of registered Syrian refugees had reached over 200,000, exceeding the UNHCR estimate of 185,000 for the entire year. Also according to the United Nations, 6 million people inside Syrian needed help and about 4 million Syrians were internally displaced because of the Syrian Civil War.
By early 2013, the UNHCR announced that the number of refugees had topped 1 million, and by March 2013 had risen to 1,204,707 people. A spokeswoman for UNHCR, Sybilla Wilkes, also reported that the rate of flight from Syria was increasing. "In March an average of 10,000 people crossing per day. In February it was 8,000. In January it was 5,000. The numbers keep going up and up." In September 2013, the number of Syrian refugees topped 2 million. On December 2013, UN announced an aid appeal for US$6.5 billion in order to assist the Syrian population - some US$2.3 billion are destined for civilians inside Syria, while US$4.2 billion would go to Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries. This was the all-time high humanitarian appeal in UN history.
Thousands of Syrian citizens fled across the border to Lebanon and Turkey. By early July 2011, 15,000 Syrian citizens had taken shelter in tent cities, set up in the Yayladağı, Reyhanlı and Altınözü districts of Hatay Province, near Turkey's border with Syria. By the end of the month, 5,000 of the refugees had returned to Syria. By late June 2011, The number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon had reached around 10,000 people. By mid July 2011, the first Syrian refugees found sanctuary in Jordan, with numbers reaching 1,500 by December.
In the April 2012 offensive by the Syrian Army, which preceded the expected ceasefire on 10 April of the Kofi Annan peace plan, the flow of refugees into Turkey reached a peak, with as many as 2,300 refugees entering on 4 April and 2,800 refugees entering on 5 April. The number of Syrian refugees in Turkey reached 23,835 by 6 April. In Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu demanded Assad keep his promise to cease military operations, while demanding action by the international community and the UN if more refugees came.
By 3 May, the number of Syrians, crossing the Turkish border was estimated at 300 people. Turkish President, Abdullah Gül, said that Turkey had prepared for "a worst-case scenario", in an apparent reference to a possible influx of large numbers of refugees from Syria. He also referred to the fact that Turkey had already set up a small camp in southern Hatay Province for 263 Syrians who had fled their country on 29 April .
By mid May, some 700 of Tel Kalakh residents had fled across the border, to the northern Lebanese village of Mkaybleh. According to Sheikh Abdullah, a prominent religious figure in the village of Wadi Khaled in northern Lebanon, by mid May the village had received more than 1,350 refugees from Syria over a period of 10 days, most of them women and children. More were expected to arrive.
On 14 May, Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said that the refugee flow into Lebanon had been fairly small at around 1,000 people. She also said the number of Syrians who had crossed the border into Turkey was also small at about 250.
With the siege of Jisr al-Shughour, the situation on the Turkish-Syrian border deteriorated, as Jisr al-Shughour, home to 41,000 people, became largely an abandoned town, in expectation of a Syrian Army attack. Initially The Guardian reported that officials in southern Turkey said that about 2,500 Syrians, many from Jisr al-Shughour, had crossed the border. However, the number of refugees, housed in refugee camps across the Turkish-Syrian border exceeded 10,000 people by mid June according to other sources.
By mid June, the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon was estimated by human rights associations at 8,500, with the main concentrations in the Akkar and Tripoli areas, and the total number of Syrian refugees in all surrounding countries surpassing more than 20,000 people. As Syrian troops amassed by the Turkish border, the flow rate further increased by hundreds of refugees a day by 23 June, reaching a total of 11,700 Syrian citizens, housed in refugee camps across the Turkish border.
According to official numbers by early July, 15,228 Syrians had sought refuge in Turkey, as a result of tension caused by the Syrian Civil War and a crackdown on protests by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's administration. More than 5,000 of them had returned on their own to Syria, therefore leaving around 10,227 Syrian refugees in Turkey.
The number of registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon reached 2,600 by the end of August, with thousands more residing in Lebanon illegally. According to UNHCR, some 120 Syrian refugees crossed into Lebanon on 29 August. According to Al-Arabiya, some 2,500 Syrians resided in the Wadi Khaled area, down from 5,500 Syrians who were there in May. Most of the Syrian refugees in the area were Arabs and Bedouins. A humanitarian aid campaign was launched by "Baitulmaal" nicknamed the "Syrian Refugee Relief".
By September, the estimates for Syrian refugees in Lebanon rose to around 4,000 registered, with possibly as many as 6,000 in total residing there. Despite the return of many Syrians back to Syria between July and August, in early September Turkey began setting up six refugee camps for Syrian refugees, who fled from Syria in June – some 6,000 out of initial 15,000 remained in Turkey.
In November, it was reported that the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey stood at 7,600.
In December, the number of registered Syrian refugees had reached almost 5,000 in Lebanon. By mid-December, the number of Syrian refugees in Jordan was around 1,500 registered and possibly thousands more unregistered. By the end of 2011, it was reported that thousands of Syrian refugees had found shelter in Libya.
On 14 January 2012, it was announced by the UNHCR that the number of registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon had reached 5,238. There were almost 1,000 families registered as refugees. Some 200 Syrians registered within a single week prior to the announcement. By late January, 6,375 registered Syrian refugees were reported in Lebanon.
In early February 2012, Jordan announced it would open a refugee camp in the country for Syrian refugees fleeing the escalating violence in Syria. There were an estimated 3,000 registered Syrian refugees in Jordan. The number of Syrian refugees in Turkey was around 9,700.
Following the February fighting in Homs and the escalating assault of Syrian troops on towns and villages near the Lebanese border in early March, a large influx of refugees into Lebanon was reported on 4 March 2012. The exact number of newly displaced Syrian refugees was not clear but was estimated around 2,000.
Turkey also reported an increased refugee flow of hundreds of people per day in mid March. With the fresh influx, the number of UN registered Syrian refugees in Turkey's Hatay Province reached 13,000 to 13,500, with possibly thousands more residing in other provinces. Turkish officials near the Syrian border expected tens of thousands, perhaps as many as 50,000 new arrivals in late March and began constructing tent cities in the southern provinces of Hatay, Kilis, Gaziantep and Şanlıurfa. By 18 March, the number of refugees in Turkey was reported at 14,700.
In Jordan, as many as 80,000 Syrians were reported to have arrived, relocating mostly to the area of Ramtha and the northern city of Mafraq, according to Jordanian government spokesman Rakan Majali. Rakan Majali also reported that a 30,000 square meter refugee camp was under construction in Jordan to host the influx of refugees. The UN refugee agency estimated the number of registered Syrian refugees in Jordan between 5,000 and 8,000 and that Jordan had accepted around 5,000 Syrian students in state schools.
The number of Syrian refugees in the Kurdish region of Iraq reached around 1,000 by 24 March. Almost 1,000 asylum seekers, including 60 families and Syrian army defectors fled from Syria to Iraqi Kurdistan, according to the Iraqi Kurdistan Region's Immigration Office. Kurdish refugees are offered shelter and medical care in Domiz camp. Men are given the alternative of military training in a nearby camp, with the intention of protecting Kurdish-majority territories in Syria.
In January 2014, nearly 1 million refugees had taken shelter in Lebanon. The UNHCR also published a report that more than 1,000 Syrians found shelter in Libya and more were expected to come by sea to Italy as well.
During the April 2012 offensive by the Syrian Army, which preceded the expected ceasefire on 10 April of the Kofi Annan peace plan, the flow of refugees to Turkey reached its peak, with as many as 2,300 refugees on 4 April and 2,800 refugees on 5 April being displaced into Turkey's border areas. The number of Syrian refugees in Turkey reached 23,835 by 6 April, and about 25,000 by 10 April, when Kofi Annan visited the refugee camps in Turkey. In Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu demanded Assad keep his promise to cease military operations, while demanding action by the international community and the UN, if more refugees came.
There were 8,594 Syrian refugees reported to have reached Lebanon, with most of them in the Bekaa Valley. The number of Syrian nationals in Jordan was estimated at 90,000.-100,000. The toal official UN number of registered refugees reached 42,000 by April, while unofficial estimates stood at as many as 130,000. Aljazeera network estimated the number of Syrian refugees at 50–60,000.
On 10 April, it was reported that the number of Syrian refugees in Syria's four neighboring countries jumped by 40 percent within the past few weeks and stood at about 55,000 registered refugees, almost half of whom were under 18 years old, according to U.N. figures. There were also estimated to be at least 20,000 refugees who were not registered at the time, as well as 200,000 or more Syrians who were internally displaced inside Syria.
In May, 3,171 Syrian nationals of Kurdish origin registered with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in the Kurdistan Region, according to a UNHCR statement. An estimated 10 to 15 families and 50 to 65 individuals continued to enter Duhok governorate daily.
In May 2012, the UNHCR in Bogotá announced that Syrian refugees have been given political asylum in Colombia and was working closely with the Colombian NGO, Pastoral Social, to help the refugees assimilate with the language and find jobs.
By the beginning of June, more than 4,000 Syrian Kurds had crossed the border into the Kurdish region of Iraq, as violence in Syria continued. The large number of Syrian refugees in Jordan, estimated at 120,000, was reported to have caused a burden on Jordan's limited water resources. The majority of Syrian refugees in Jordan were concentrated in the northern cities of Mafraq, Irbid, Ramtha, Jerash and Ajlun. In Lebanon, it was reported that the number of UNHCR registered Syrian refugees reached 17,000, while a total of about 26,000 registered and unregistered refugees were believed to be settled throughout the country. Most of the refugees were reported to be women and children. By the beginning of June, Turkey reported an influx of about 400 additional Syrian refugees, bringing the total number of registered refugees in Turkey to 24,500.
The Office of Visas and Registration of Armenia reported that 3,248 Syrian citizens, most of them ethnic Armenians, applied for Armenian citizenship by July 2012. In addition, six Syrian families (14 people) requested a residency permit. Overall, up to 300 Syrians expressed their intention of staying in Armenia permanently.
According to Lebanese sources, nearly 19,000 Syrians had fled the Syrian capital into Lebanon between 18 and 20 July, as violence inside the city continued to escalate. The United Nations refugee agency registered roughly 35,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan, but there were reported to be far more Syrian refugees along its borders, upward of 140,000 people. The total number of registered refugees throughout the region was reported by the UNHCR at 112,000 on 17 July 2012.
In the Iraqi Kurdish region more than 6,500 refugees were registered and over 1,400 were awaiting registration. The total number of registered Syrians in Lebanon had reached around 28,100 refugees by 17 July, with a further 2,000 Syrians receiving assistance while waiting for registration. In Turkey, it was reported that the number of registered refugees reached more than 43,000 by 21 July, although nearly 1,000 returned to Syria because of poor conditions at the provisional refugee camps.
On 9 August, a boat of refugees, including 124 first Syrian refugees arrived in Italy. By mid August, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that the number of registered Syrian refugees had reached over 200,000, exceeding the UNHCR estimate of 185,000 for the entire year.
The number of Syrian refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan swelled to 35,000 by late October 2012.
According to UNHCR data, the total number of Syrian refugees reached more than 408,000 registered in December 2012, mostly residing in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq (including Iraqi Kurdistan). The number of Syrian refugees in Turkey reached 135,519 registered; 8,852 in Iraq proper and additional 54,000 in Iraqi Kurdistan; 109,081 registered in Lebanon, with 41,712 people awaiting registration; 100,368 registered in Jordan, with 41,524 Syrians awaiting registration. There are also 12,915 people registered in Egypt as of 30 December 2012, and about at least 150,000 residing in the country.
There were increased concerns over fears of the exploitation of women refugees in particular.
In August, Bulgaria started to experience enormous influx of illegal Syrian refugees. Bulgaria asked the European Union and Red Cross for aid in handling an increase in Syrian refugees. Bulgaria, which shares a border with Turkey, may have to provide shelter for as many as 10,000 Syrians by year end. Bulgarian refugee centers are full and the government is looking for additional locations to accommodate a rise in people illegally crossing the border with Turkey.
In August, the United Nations confirmed that groups of thousands of Syrian refugees left their country into Iraqi Kurdistan.
In September, Italy also experienced increases in Syrian refugees. The majority Syrian refugees have come from Egypt, although some started their journeys from Turkey. UNHCR estimates that more than 4,600 Syrians have arrived in Italy by sea since the beginning of 2013. About two-thirds of these arrivals were in August.
In September, Swedish migration authorities ruled that all Syrian asylum seekers will be granted permanent residency in light of the worsening conflict in Syria. Sweden is the first EU-country to make this offer. The decision means that the roughly 8,000 Syrians who have temporary residency in Sweden will now be able to stay in the country permanently. They will also have the right to bring their families to Sweden. While Malek Laesker, vice-chair of the Syrian Arabian Cultural Association of Sweden, welcomed the decision, he also warned it could create problems. "The fact that Sweden is the first country to open its arms is both positive and negative," he told the TT news agency, explaining that it may be a boon for the growing people-smuggling market.
In September, the countries in South America (mainly Argentina and Brazil) decided to offer refuge to thousands of displaced Syrians. More than three hundred Syrian refugee families have already arrived in Argentina. Moreover, Brazil is the first country in the Americas region to offer humanitarian visas to Syrian refugees. Brazil's embassies in (Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq) countries neighbouring Syria will be responsible for issuing travel visas for people wanting to go there. Claims for asylum will need to be presented on arrival in Brazil. These special humanitarian visas will also be provided to family members living in countries neighbouring Syria.
By May 2014, UN officials reported that over 9 million Syrians had been displaced by the civil war, including 2.7 million who had fled to other countries.
Turkey's Killis camp was featured in a Feb. 13 article in the New York Times titled How to Build a Perfect Refugee Camp. It is run by Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD, and staffed by Turkish government employees, rather than by NGOs. It is hoped that the 14,000 refugees benefiting from the clean, well organized facility will eventually "go home and become grand ambassadors of Turkey."
The UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR)reported in 2014 that the total number of refugees worldwide exceeded 50 million for the first time since World War II. The recent increases were largely due to the Syrian civil war.
International Organization for Migration – The International Organization for Migration provided water filters, rechargeable lights, stoves, blankets and pillows in Lebanon and Iraq in June 2012, as well as winterization kits to Syrians in Iraq throughout the winter 2012–2013.
Iraqi Kurdistan – In March 2012, the Kurdistan Regional Government announced plans to construct a second refugee camp for Syrian nationals fleeing the violence in their country, as Moqebleh refugee camp at Qamishli, which was established following the 2004 Al-Qamishli riots, became overcrowded with refugees of the Syrian Civil War. According to the World Food Programme, in the span of one week in August 2013, 37,000 Syrians fled to Iraq, 15,000 of them arriving at the Kawrgosk camp in Kurdish Northern Iraq.
Israel – Israelis from humanitarian groups are in Jordan to assist Syrian refugees fleeing their country's civil war. Ayoob Kara, Israel's deputy minister for the development of the Negev and Galilee, said that Israelis are assisting children and infants who have been injured in the Syrian military's ongoing violent crackdown throughout Syria. He said Israeli volunteer groups had been providing humanitarian aid in Turkey and Jordan. Syrians injured in clashes with the Syrian army have been allowed to cross the border in the northern Golan Heights to receive medical treatment. In February 2013, seven Syrian refugees were transported to Ziv Medical Center in Safed, Israel. Since the outbreak of the fighting, the Western Galilee Hospital has treated 85 Syrians and Ziv Medical Center has treated several dozen.
Jordan – Jordan began construction of a 30,000 square meter refugee camp in March 2012. Jordan has agreed to create camps to house the swelling numbers of refugees, including one camp already in the works in northern Jordan that could hold up to 113,000 people. Jordan has forcibly returned some newly arriving Palestinians from Syria and threatened others with deportation. Jordan has absorbed some 500,000 Syrian refugees, but Palestinians fleeing Syria are placed in a separate refugee camp, under stricter conditions and are banned from entering Jordanian cities. Since April 2012, Jordanian authorities have also arbitrarily detained Palestinians fleeing Syria in a refugee holding center without any options for release – other than to Syria. Jordan was criticized by Human Rights Watch for singling out Palestinian refugees. The economics behind Jordan's refugee program have also been a subject of significant domestic contention and anxiety. The Jordanian Ministry of Planning estimated the cost of refugee accommodation to be $851.1 million, or roughly 2 percent of the country's $40 billion GDP. Though much international aid has been promised, so far it has come up several hundreds of millions of dollars short of the total cost. Jordanian government announced the beginning of the month of February its intention to build a camp for Syrian refugees fleeing the escalating violence in their country. As was reported from Turkey for 3,000 refugees crossing the border between the two countries, bringing the total number of registered refugees in Turkey, 9,700 refugees end of February.
Lebanon – As of 8 August 2013, more than 677,702 Syrian refugees are in Lebanon. As the number of Syrian refugees increases, the Lebanese Forces Party, the Kataeb Party, and the Free Patriotic Movement fear the country's sectarian-based political system is being undermined.
Turkey – Turkey has accommodated most of its Syrian refugees in tent cities in Hatay province, which have been constructed since summer 2011.
Qatar – Qatar is sponsoring 42 Syrian refugees as 'guests of the Emir'.
Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia said on 11 January 2013 that they will send $10 million in aid to help Syrian refugees in Jordan.
United States – The United States has sent aid worth $800 million to help Syrian refugees. The U.S. has admitted 90 Syrian refugees since the civil war began. The U.S. has decided to let nearly 2,000 Syrian refugees for permanent resettlement in America.
United Kingdom – United Kingdom will resettle 500 Syrian refugees.
European Union – The European Union has sent aid worth nearly €1,800 million ($2,430 million) in relief and recovery aid for Syrian refugees from both the Commission and Member States. Making it the largest international contributor to Syrian refugees both internally and externally displaced. European assistance reaches up to 80% of the population affected by the crisis.
Sweden – Sweden accepted nearly 8,000 Syrian refugees in 2012, and expects more than twice as many in 2013. In September 2013, Swedish migration authorities ruled that all Syrian asylum seekers will be granted permanent residency and the right to bring their families as well. Sweden is the first EU-country to make this offer.
Brazil – Brazil is the first country in the Americas region to offer humanitarian visas to Syrian refugees. Brazil's embassies in (Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq) countries neighbouring Syria will be responsible for issuing travel visas for people wanting to go there. Claims for asylum will need to be presented on arrival in Brazil. These special humanitarian visas will also be provided to family members living in countries neighbouring Syria.
Germany – Germany has granted asylum to 8,000 Syrian refugees since 2012.
Switzerland – Switzerland announced its consideration to accept Syrian refugees per U.N. request.
Iran - As of early 2014 Iran has sent 150 tons of humanitarian goods including 3,000 tents and 10,000 blankets to the Red Crescents of Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon via land routes to be distributed among the Syrian refugees residing in the three countries.
China – People's Republic of China has donated $200,000 for Syrian refugees in Jordan.
Canada – Canada will resettle 1,300 Syrian refugees over two years. Canada announced $100 million in humanitarian aid for Syria in June 2013. In January 2014, Canada pledged $105 million to Jordan, of which $100 million was "to promote economic development and deliver basic services, such as education, to Jordanians and Syrian refugees". As of March 2014, "no more than 10 have arrived in Canada."
Colombia – Colombia has accepted Syrian refugees that have asked for asylum within Colombia. The refugees are then reported to the United Nations Refugee Agency in Bogotá, where then they are aided to learn Spanish with support of Pastoral Social, a Colombian NGO that works closely with the UNHCR .
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has a policy of helping refugees work and be productive, using their existing skills to meet their own needs and needs of the host country:
- Ensure the right of refugees to access work and other livelihood opportunities as they are available for nationals... Match programme interventions with corresponding levels of livelihood capacity (existing livelihood assets such as skills and past work experience) and needs identified in the refugee population, and the demands of the market... Assist refugees in becoming self-reliant. Cash / food / rental assistance delivered through humanitarian agencies should be short-term and conditional and gradually lead to self-reliance activities as part of longer-term development... Convene internal and external stakeholders around the results of livelihood assessments to jointly identify livelihood support opportunities.
In order for humanitarian efforts to be effective, it is important to understand the profile of those seeking refuge (existing mental health system and available resources).  If enough aid is provided to refugees, it can help host countries too, through stimulus effects. However refugee support does not usually provide cash to create effective demand.
Turkey has accepted 400,000 Syrian refugees, half of whom are spread around a dozen camps placed under the direct authority of the Turkish Government. Satellite images confirmed that the first Syrian camps appeared in Turkey in July 2011, shortly after the towns of Deraa, Homs and Hama were besieged.
- Gawilan refugee camp
- Kawergosk refugee camp
- Basirma refugee camp
- Qushtapa refugee camp
- Darashakran refugee camp
- Arbat transit camp
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