الثلاثاء، 21 يونيو، 2011

#UNHCR Mission into north-west #Syria finds villages emptied #Refugees

This is a summary of what was said by the UNHCR spokesperson (
Adrian Edwards) at today’s Palais des Nations press briefing in Geneva. Further
information can be found on the UNHCR websites, www.unhcr.org (
http://www.unhcr.org/ )and www.unhcr.fr ( http://www.unhcr.fr/ ),
which should also be checked for regular media updates on non-briefing
days.

(1) Mission into north-west Syria finds villages emptied



UNHCR participated in a government-organized mission to the Syrian town
of Jisr Al Shugour yesterday, close to the border with Turkey. The visit
was led by the Syrian military for 150 diplomats, members of the media,
and UN agencies and approached Jisr al Shugour from Idlib to the east. A
UNHCR staff member reported that villages were increasingly empty from
around 40 kilometres away from Jisr al Shugour. There was no evidence of
people working in the fields. Jisr al Shugour itself was almost
deserted, with most shops shuttered and closed.

The mission was shown the scene of the battle and did not focus on
humanitarian needs.  No displaced populations were encountered, but the
fact that Jisr al Shughour and surrounding villages are empty indicates
significant displacement.

UNHCR met briefly with staff of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent who
described food and medicine shortages in the area. Other than this brief
interaction, the mission was not able to conduct any humanitarian
assessments.

Since 7 June, some 500 to 1,000 people have been crossing from Syria
into Turkey daily. There are now more than 10,000 Syrian refugees
sheltered by Turkish authorities in four camps along the Turkey-Syria
border.

An inter-agency assessment mission to Southeast Turkey this past
weekend was encouraged by what it saw. The efforts of the Turkish
authorities and Turkish Red Crescent to provide protection and shelter
and cater for the needs of Syrian refugees were commendable.

However, our concerns are that many of these people are severely
traumatized, and that that there are many vulnerable groups needing help
- in particular women alone with their children, who represent over 50
per cent of the population.

Syrian refugees spoke to our team about their fears and trauma. Many
had lost family members, who they said were either killed, missing or in
hiding. Our team heard accounts of murders, targeted assassinations,
assaults, civilians getting killed in crossfire, torture and humiliation
by the military. Most of these people had lost virtually all their
belongings and property. In many cases their livestock were shot, fields
were torched, and homes and businesses destroyed or confiscated.

UNHCR is ready to assist and provide full scope of its expertise to the
Turkish government.

For further information on this topic, please contact:
In Turkey:  Metin Corabatir on mobile +90 533 572 8716
In Geneva:  Sybella Wilkes on mobile +41 79 557 91 38
In Geneva:  Andrej Mahecic on mobile +41 79 200 76 17

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