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article imageRefugee flow into Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan being restricted

By Ken Hanly     Jul 14, 2013 in World
Damascus - Syrian refugee inflows into Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq are being severely restricted. Egypt, in particular, is now requiring visas for Syrian nationals and is turning refugees away.
Almost a third of the 21 million people in Syria are either refugees or displaced within Syria. This enormous outflow is causing huge humanitarian problems for host countries with the result that some countries are now taking measures to severely restrict the inflow.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees now reports that Syrians who fly into Egypt are actually being turned away. Before President Mursi was deposed Syrians fleeing the conflict were allowed into Egypt without visas. Aid workers in Cairo estimate that there are already about 300,000 Syrian refugees in Egypt.
Shortly after Mursi was overthrown the military rulers demanded that incoming Syrians have visas even though the Egyptian embassy in Syria reports that it does not have the capacity to issue them at present. Egypt is following the lead of Iraq, Turkey, and Jordan, all of whom have been seeking new policies to limit the inflow of refugees. As a result, thousands of Syrians are stuck in unsafe conditions in border regions where often humanitarian aid cannot reach them.
A spokesperson for UNHCR, Melissa Fleming said:“We are absolutely commending these governments for having been so generous. We do understand that they’re worried about having so many Syrians on their soil, but if people are on the other side of the border unable to escape... the most humane thing a country can do when people are fleeing for their lives is to keep the borders open".
More than 1.75 million Syrian refugees are registered or waiting to be registered with the UN. This is more than twenty times the number just a year ago. Added to this number are an estimated 4.25 million more displaced within Syria and another 6.8 million within Syria who need humanitarian assistance.
Lebanon has kept the most open borders and now estimates that the number of Syrian refugees is about one quarter of its entire population. Lebanon worries not only about the strain on its resources but the possible political problems the refugees will bring as well.
In Iraq Sunni dissidents actually hope that the uprising will cross the border into Iraq. There have already been clashes inside Iraq with Syrian militants who have crossed the border.
In Jordan the government is already half of Palestinian origin and the country does not wish to be forced into absorbing more of Syria's Palestinian population. The number of refugees entering Jordan has fallen from 2,000 to 3,000 per day to just 600 or 700.
Iraq has closed its borders completely to refugees except for special cases. Natalie Prokopchuk from the UNHCR in Baghdad said: “Basically the government is citing security concerns and fear of spill over of the Syrian conflict into Iraq as the main reason”,
These developments are causing the number of displaced Syrians in camps at border areas to swell where they are sometimes subject to attacks by the Syrian government and even fighting between rebels and Assad forces. The humanitarian needs of these people far surpass available aid. Ned Colt, of the International Rescue Committee says: "While the [International Rescue Committee] commends Syria’s neighbors for maintaining an open borders policy, we are increasingly concerned about reports of Syrians having difficulty entering Turkey, Jordan and Iraq. The international community should strongly encourage hosting governments and the Syrian regime to respect the right of all refugees fleeing Syria to ‘seek and enjoy asylum’ and discourage policies – including the closure of borders – that prevent civilians from leaving Syria,”
With the huge strains being placed upon Egypt, Jordan, and other countries it seems that policies to stem the flow into these countries will continue and cause even more problems for those displaced within Syria itself.
More about syrian refugees, Syrian refugees in Egypt, Jordan refugees, Syrian civil war
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