Syrian refugees to reach 4 million by the end of 2013

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UNITED NATIONS, Istanbul/Amman/New York — Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, will be visiting refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan to underscore the urgent needs of women and youth affected by the crisis in Syria.

TURKEY-SYRIAThere are currently over 1 million registered Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Egypt and other countries. More than 400,000 people have become refugees since 1 January 2013 alone.

Out of the 4 million people who are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance within Syria, it is estimated that 1 million are women of reproductive age.

About 250,000 women in Syria and in refugee settings will likely become pregnant in the coming year.

Dr. Osotimehin will visit Nizip camp in Turkey on 13 April and Za’atari camp in Jordan on 14 April. During the visits, he will meet with women and young people living in the camps. Dr. Osotimehin will underline to partners, government officials and stakeholders the importance of addressing the urgent needs of pregnant and lactating women and of providing lifesaving services to survivors of gender-based violence. In Jordan, Dr. Osotimehin will inaugurate a clinic and a centre for women funded by ECHO, the European Community’s Humanitarian Office, in Za’atari camp’s new extension.

In Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, UNFPA is responding to the crisis by supporting partners in providing lifesaving reproductive health care services.

In Jordan, UNFPA is directly supporting reproductive health care services in three refugee camps and in urban settings through three mobile clinics and 11 static clinics, by providing equipment, medication and trainings. UNFPA has also established safe spaces for women and youth centres in Za’atri camp, King Abdullah Park and Cyber City, where activities are conducted as an entry point to address issues affecting women in the camps, including gender-based violence. Around 15,000 refugees benefit from these activities every month.

In Turkey, UNFPA has provided 40,000 dignity kits to refugees in the 14 camps set up by the Turkish authorities; another 20,000 will be delivered soon. The kits include sanitary napkins, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other essential items that help refugees to maintain daily hygiene routines under the harsh conditions of camp life. UNFPA has also trained national health care providers to respond to the reproductive health needs of refugees.

Within Syria, UNFPA is supporting the availability of and access to reproductive health services, including lifesaving emergency obstetric care and provision of care via mobile medical teams. In an innovative approach, reproductive health vouchers have been distributed to women for free reproductive health services, including emergency obstetric care. So far, UNFPA has supported around 600,000 people residing in violence-affected areas and assisted in around 10,000 safe deliveries.

LISTEN HERE – Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio Geneva

syria-children2-300x257The number of Syrian refugees in neighboring countries could reach four million by the end of the year unless a political solution to the crisis in the country is found, according to the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR.

To date Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq are hosting over 1.3 million Syrian refugees.

UNHCR however says efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to the refugees was being hampered by lack of funding.

The humanitarian community has requested up to $1 billion to assist Syrian refugees but only about $300 million have been received so far.
Panos Moumtzis, from UNHCR says aid agencies were providing just the bare minimum to the refugees adding that lack of funding was likely to expose the refugees and especially women and children to exploitation as they make efforts to provide for their families.

“We feel we have reached a breaking point. So the situation is critical. We do not want to be in a situation where we would have to cut down services because as it is the services we are providing are really the bare minimum, life saving. Often the most vulnerable are women and the children that make them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse and what we are worried of is sexual exploitation of women and children being put into labour.”

UNHCR says among the priorities that require urgent funding is the construction of new refugee camps in order to decongest existing camps where provision of sanitary services is falling below standards due to overcrowding.

LISTEN HERE – Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio Geneva

UNFPA works to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.

For more information or to arrange an interview with Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, please contact:

In Istanbul:
Jens-Hagen Eschenbaecher; Tel: +90 549 748 36 55 ; eschenbaecher@unfpa.org

In Ankara:
Nezih Tavlas; Tel: + 90 543 452 11 45; tavlas@unfpa.org

In Amman:
Zeina Horani; Tel: + 96 279 560 9061; horani@unfpa.org
Alexandra Sicotte-Levesque; Tel: +1 646 309 6836; sicotte-levesque@unfpa.org

In New York:
Omar Gharzeddine; Tel: +1 212 297 5028; gharzeddine@unfpa.org
Mandy Kibel; Tel: +1 212 297 5293; kibel@unfpa.org

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