As Syrians continue to flee the conflict, a new report by the UNHCR finds that the situation for Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq is increasingly precarious.
In March, UNHCR estimated that the number of refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria had topped one million people.
The new report found that host communities in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq are becoming “increasingly fatigued as services, resources and infrastructure come under mounting pressure from the continued refugee influx.”
Syrians who fled the conflict feel increasingly unsafe in camps and temporary accommodation in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, and say that women are at risk, that organized crime is on the rise and that opposition groups are recruiting teen boys to fight in the conflict. Meanwhile, their host countries are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the ongoing influx of Syrian refugees.
The July report, a self-evaluation of the refugee agency UNHCR’s work in Syria entitled From slow boil to breaking point, admits the UN could have done much better and “a far more substantial and coherent strategy is needed”.
One year since its creation, Jordan’s Za’atri refugee camp has grown into an urban center and the country’s fourth-largest city and the second-largest refugee camp in the world.
UNCHR found that organized crime and pressures from Syrian opposition groups are a particular problem in the largest refugee camp, Za’atri, which accommodates around 130,000 people.
The report notes:
“Za’atri is lawless in many ways…Given the harsh physical conditions to be found in Za’atri, coupled with the high level of criminality in the camp, it is not surprising to hear refugees speaking of their desire to “escape.” A growing number are doing so by returning to Syria, some of them taking advantage of changes in the security situation there.
Videos: Two Reports On Za’atri, One Year After Its Founding
In Lebanon, where there are around 630,000 Syrian refugees registered or waiting to register with UNHCR, the report found that the biggest problem is that of shelter.
The report notes:
No camps have been established and refugees are found in many different types of accommodation of varying quality. These include rented rooms, abandoned and refurbished buildings, collective centers and informal settlements. These settlements are scattered throughout much of the country and are usually established on private land. Their residents live in makeshift shelters with access to very rudimentary water and sanitation services. Improving such infrastructure in these settlements is not always easy, as agreement by private owners and/or government can be complicated to obtain. Of particular concern is that some refugees are living in flood prone and/or in unstable areas with the potential for conflict.
Video: In Lebanon, Syrian Refugees Settle In a Former Shopping Center:
In the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, the report found that the Domiz camp is critically overcrowded with unacceptable living standards.
“There is currently no agreed strategy in place to deal with the existing refugee population in Northern Iraq or any future influxes into the territory,” the report said.
Video: UNICEF Report On Refugee Children In Iraq
Featured Image: Za’atri Refugee Camp, Jordan (AP)