Wednesday 21 March 2018

Shona Murray: Nurse, mother and prisoner – one Syrian refugee's story

A refugee from Homs in shelter accommodations
A refugee from Homs in shelter accommodations
A mother and her two children, who escaped Homs through the treacherous border to Lebanon

Shona Murray

TWO weeks ago the UN declared that the number of Syrian refugees had reached two million – but the reality is the figure is far higher than that.

Treacherous, unofficial borders in neighbouring countries – namely Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq – provide access for hundreds of thousands of civilians escaping heavy bombardment, the majority of whom do not register with the UN or the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). It's estimated that the number of refugees in Lebanon alone is actually closer to one-and-a-half to two million people. Last week, I travelled to the Lebanon/Syrian border and spoke with various agencies involved in the conflict. The Office of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon – a volunteer operation based in Tripoli, North Lebanon which stresses its independence from the opposition forces – estimates that 1.5 million Syrian refugees have fled there.

Its director, Khalid Mostafa explains that the organisation, which assists by reuniting Syrians with their families, running schools and providing basic sheltered accommodation, doesn't get any funds or support from the Lebanese government or NGOs, relying on money from private donations from Syrians abroad because of the host country's apparent unwillingness to help Syrians there.

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