Thousands of Syrian Refugees Stranded on the Iraqi Border as Influx Overwhelms Aid Effort, Save the Children says.

Thousands of Syrian Refugees Stranded on the Iraqi Border as Influx Overwhelms Aid Effort, Save the Children says.

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Thousands of refugees are still stranded on the border waiting to be transported to emergency reception centres further in country.  Photo Credit: Tue Jakobsen/Save the Children
Thousands of refugees are still stranded on the border waiting to be transported to emergency reception centers further in country.
Photo Credit: Tue Jakobsen/Save the Children

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Aug. 18, 2013) —Thousands of Syrian refugees are stranded on the Iraqi border after more than 10,000 people, mainly women, children and the elderly, crossed in just two days, Save the Children says.

The influx follows a sharp deterioration in the security situation in northeastern parts of Syria, with thousands of people seeking safety in Iraq’s Kurdish region, overwhelming the aid effort there.

Around 7,000 refugees have been taken to an emergency camp, but thousands are still waiting to be registered at the border, and the influx is showing no signs of slowing down.

Save the Children has launched an emergency response to deal with the stranded refugees, distributing basic supplies to families waiting to be registered. Over the next few days, the aid agency will distribute more than 40,000 liters of water at the border crossing.

"This is an unprecedented influx of refugees, and the main concern is that so many of them are stuck out in the open at the border or in emergency reception areas with limited, if any, access to basic services," Alan Paul, Save the Children’s Emergency Team Leader said. "The refugee response in Iraq is already thinly stretched, and close to half of the refugees are children who have experienced things no child should. We urgently need to cover their basic needs: food, water and shelter."

With the Syrian conflict in its third year the Kurdistan region of Iraq already hosts more than 150,000 Syrian refugees, a figure UN expects will rise to as much as 350,000 by the end of the year.

It is still unclear how long the border will be kept open, but Save the Children will continue to coordinate closely with organizations and UN agencies to meet the needs of the new arrivals.

Save the Children is working in refugee camps across Iraq, including in the Kurdish region, as part of its Syria crisis response. It is also delivering aid in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria itself.

Save the Children is the leading independent organization for children in need, with programs in 120 countries, including the United States. We aim to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children, and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives by improving their health, education and economic opportunities. In times of acute crisis, we mobilize rapid assistance to help children recover from the effects of war, conflict and natural disasters. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.