UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, announced today that it has opened a registration center in Tripoli, Lebanon in order to register the nearly 700 Syrians that flee into Lebanon each day, trying to escape the growing violence in Syria.
Speaking in Geneva, Adrian Edwards, the head of media and communications at UNHCR, said as of Monday the number of formally and pending registered Syrian refugees has reached 157,577. He went on to say the total number of refugees that have fled Syria includes 45,998 in Jordan, 37,740 in Lebanon, 14,129 in Iraq, and 59,710 in Turkey.
Some of those that have fled to Iraq are former Iraqi refugees that fled to Syria during the Iraq war. It is believed that the actual number of refugees is much higher due to some refugees being reluctant to register. According to Edwards "These are fairly general impressions that our team is receiving that people have been reluctant to register because they fear that this information might get back to Syria and have negative implications for them," "That, in general seems to be the reason that is holding people up now. In Jordan, you see a change in circumstances now and, more people now are, in fact, coming forward to register. Obviously, we hope that will continue because that helps us help them." Currently there is 20,000 registered refugees in northern Lebanon alone. Thousands more are waiting to be registered and the new registration center allows for an information campaign in Lebanon which encourages people to register, says Edwards.
The pilgrimage from war torn Syria into Lebanon is not an easy one. Refugees must navigate shelling, gunfire, snipers, and landmines while within the Syrian boarders. Once they reach Lebanon, they much try and locate food, shelter and any needed medical care. It is for these reasons that registration is so important. Once registered, the refugees can take advantage of any UN, Lebanese and NGO assistance. However, funding for many of the NGO organizations trying to provide aid to the refugees is limited. With only about a third of the funds needed, and with the number of refugees needing assistance growing by the hour, the situation grows more dire with every passing day.
Although the new registration center will hopefully make it easier for refugees to register and receive aid, the UN and NGO's have a monumental task ahead of them, not only to convince more refugees to register, but to provide the aid they so desperately need once they have registered.