BEIRUT — More than half a million Syrian refugees are seeking international aid, and the numbers are climbing by more than 3,000 a day as violence continues to rage in Syria, the United Nations refugee agency said Tuesday.
The onset of winter-like weather has posed new perils for those seeking asylum outside of war-ravaged Syria.
“Winter can be extremely harsh, particularly when you’ve got people already weakened by the ordeal of coming out of Syria,” said Ron Redmond, a spokesman for the U.N. refugee agency. “People are coming out saying they are doing it as a last resort. ... Most people are coming through with just the clothes on their backs.”
The great majority of Syrian refugees are women and children, U.N. officials say.
But the numbers released Tuesday in Geneva provide only a partial view of the vast refugee flows that have spilled over Syria’s borders, taxing the ability of other nations and the international community to help.
The half-million statistic refers to Syrian refugees who have officially registered with the United Nations or are awaiting registration in four surrounding countries — Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon — as well as in Egypt and elsewhere in North Africa. Those who are registered can be eligible for aid, including housing, food and medical care.