Syrian refugees have exceeded the four million mark for the first time since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in March 2011- according to the statistics of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)- making them the highest number of refugees in the world since the migration of 4.6 million Afghani’s from their country in 1992.
According to the numbers provided by UNHCR which were updated today, the number of registered Syrian refugees amount to 4,013,000, spread across the following countries:
1,805,255 refugees in Turkey, making Turkey the country hosting the largest number of Syrian refugees.
1,172,753 refugees in Lebanon, making Lebanon the country with the greatest number of refugees in relation to the country’s population.
629,128 refugees in Jordan
249, 726 refugees in Iraq.
24,056 refugees in North Africa.
UNHCR is facing a large crisis in financing the needs of the refugees. In early 2015, UNHCR announced that they and their partners required 5.5 billion dollars. However, until now, not even a quarter of this amount has been guaranteed.
On 29/8/2014, the number of Syrian refugees had reached three million, meaning that an average of 3174 people left Syria every day since then and until 9/7/2015.
The Suffering of Refugees in Neighbouring Countries
Syrian refugees suffer from a wide range of violations which differ from country to country. Whilst violations in Turkey and Jordan are related to the inability of international organisations and the host countries in responding to the humanitarian needs of the refugees, violations committed against refugees in Lebanon are connected to the political and security situation with regards to the security apparatus and militias loyal to the Syrian regime.
Below are the most important violations which Syrian refugees have been subjected to since the beginning of the Syrian crisis:
Firstly: Violations against the Right to Life
Hundreds of refugees, the majority of them children, have died in neighbouring countries as a result of the weather conditions during the winter.
The snowstorm which hit the area at the beginning of the year was one of the worse storms to have hit refugee camps, leading to the death of 19 refugees and displaced peoples, two of whom died in Jordan and 11 in Lebanon.
Attempts made by Syrian refugees to reach donor countries for asylum has also led to the death of hundreds, especially in their attempts to reach Europe. Most of them died through drowning in the Mediterranean Sea.
In addition, refugees in Lebanon have been killed on more than one occasion due to bombardment of refugee camps by Hizbollah militias, as well as raids carried out by the Lebanese army. The last of these cases took place on 25/9/2014 when forces of the Lebanese army raided the ‘Irsaal camp, killing a child and injuring tens of others.
Secondly: Violations against the Right to Protection from Torture and Degrading Treatment
Refugees in Lebanon in particular are subjected to arbitrary arrest and torture by the Lebanese security and forces of the Lebanese army. SHRC has documented over 15 cases in which refugees have been arbitrarily arrested in police stations and army checkpoints, and been subjected to torture and degrading treatment during their detainment.
The subjection of refugees and their families to humiliation and beating by Hizbollah militias and their supporters have been documented in more than one area, especially in the areas in which there is high support for Hizbollah.
In mid 2014, thousands of refugees in Lebanon were threatened to be deported back to Syria if they did not take part in a rally in support of the Syrian regime outside the Syrian embassy on 31/5/2014.
SHRC has also documented the beating of Syrian refugees in Greece, Bulgaria and Italy by the police and army of those countries, regardless of whether they were arrested whilst crossing borders, or those who are detained in police centres.
In addition, SHRC has data in which Syrian refugees have had their possessions stolen by police, particularly in Greece, and being forced back to Turkey by discarding them at the border in an inhumane manner. This in addition to beating them severely, breaking their limbs with sticks and batons, and using police dogs to scare them.
Thirdly: Violations against the Civil Rights of Refugees
Syrian refugees have been subjected to continuous violations of their civil rights, both from the Syrian regime and their host countries.
Most refugees left Syria without some or all of their official documents, whilst for some their documents expired after having left the country. This matter has meant that these refugees cannot access other rights, such as that of registering newborns, obtaining official documents, registering marriages, and so on.
Some of the host countries do not appreciate the situation of the refugees and refuse to give them the necessary official documents, making their daily lives difficult.
Most of the cases in which violations related to documents have been recorded in Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq.
The crisis with official documentation has pushed many Syrians in going to countries in which they can claim asylum, especially in Europe, in order to obtain nationalities in those countries.
Fourthly: Violations against Economic and Social Rights
The difficult economic situation faced by refugees has led to great violations committed against them, affecting their ability to secure basic needs for their families, especially as support from international organisations are not enough to secure the needs for a decent life.
According to the data provided by UNHCR, 86% of refugees in Jordan that are living outside of the camps live beneath the poverty line on an average of $3.2 per day.
The difficult humanitarian situation in which refugees find themselves leads to further violations against health and the right to education, with many of the children, especially in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, working in order to gain money for their families.
International estimations point to the fact that 75% of children in Syria and outside of Syria have not continued with their education due to child labour.