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08/20/2013

Syria: What the Human Exodus of War Looks Like

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All Photos Courtesy of UNHCR/G.Gubaeva

 

War in Syria is not news. Nor is the steady stream of people fleeing the bloody civil war.

But when a photographer from the UNCHR, the UN’s refugee agency, captured the images of thousands of people crossing a newly-built bridge into northern Iraq late last week, it provided a stunning look at the exodus of war.

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UNHCR field officers first reported about 750 Syrians crossed over the pontoon bridge across theTigris River, but within hours a much larger group of 5,000 to 7,000 people followed.

The vast majority of the new arrivals are families -- women, children and elderly -- mainly from  the devastated Syrian cities of Aleppo, Efrin, Hassake and Qamishly.

 UNHCR Field Officer, Galiya Gubaeva, was on the ground with her camera and took these pictures.

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 "The factors allowing this sudden movement are not fully clear to us at this stage," UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said.

 Some of the Syrians had reportedly been waiting near the Tigris River for two to three days. UNHCR officials saw scores of buses arriving on the Syrian side dropping off more people seeking to cross.

 Relief workers scrambled to accommodate the human tide. 

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At Erbil, about 2,000 of the new arrivals are  encamped at an emergency transit site in Kawergost town. Some new arrivals are sheltered under tents, others are  staying in mosques or with family and friends.

"As of today 1,916,387 Syrians have fled the war and registered as refugees or applied for registration. Two-thirds of these have arrived this year," Edwards said.

 

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The UNHCR says there are now more than 684,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, 516,000 in Jordan, 434,000 in Turkey, 154,000 in Iraq and 107,000 in Egypt.

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 Julian Sher is a foreign affairs and investigative reporter for the Star and can be reached at jsher@thestar.ca and on Twitter @juliansher.

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