Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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How Many Refugees From the Assad Regime Are There? Try 500,000.

by Elliott Abrams
April 6, 2012


The Assad regime has, according to the United Nations, now killed over nine thousand of its citizens. How many have fled the country since the revolt against Assad began last year?

The answer is 42,000, says the BBC or 50,000, says the U.S. State Department.

These figures are ridiculously low. According to one report, “In Jordan…local officials have put the number of incoming refugees at approximately 90,000, while UNHCR has only registered about nine thousand.” Similarly, UNHCR says “In Turkey, about 17,000 Syrians are registered with the government” and CNN says  “More than 23,000 Syrian refugees now reside in Turkey,” but others report one single refugee camp already holds 22,000. Indeed 2,350 Syrians fled to Turkey in one day this week.

Then there is Lebanon, where there are more than 16,000 refugees registered with UNHCR but the totals are almost certainly several multiples of that number.

If the figure of 90,000 for Jordan is correct, one can add what must be a similar number for Lebanon and a larger one for Turkey. There are, probably, a quarter of a million refugees from Syria—and then of course there are the people UNHCR does not count, those who are internally displaced: refugees within their own country. That number has been estimated at 200,000.

It’s fair, then, to say that the Assad regime’s attacks against the people of Syria have already displaced nearly a half million people, and perhaps far more. On February 23, Secretary of State Clinton said of the violence in Syria that “World opinion is not going to stand idly by.”  As the numbers of people killed, internally displaced, and forced to flee their country grow by the thousands each week–indeed each day–she may wish to withdraw her statement.

Post a Comment 4 Comments

  • Posted by andy

    “It’s fair, then, to say that the Assad regime’s attacks against the people of Syria have already displaced nearly a half million people”

    No its not. your back of an envelope calculations does not mean you can state this.

    Take another example – Iraqis killed since the US invasion. Some estimates put it as high as 1,500,000. Would you ever be lazy enough to say “its fair to say that 1,500,00 have died”? I don’t think so.

  • Posted by Dean Smallwood

    The actual number aside , it’s pretty evident that the more people murdered or displaced by Assad the fewer trouble makers he has to deal with .

    It also looks like Secy. Clinton’s “opinion” has been standing idly by for almost six weeks . How many have been murdered or displaced in that period ?

  • Posted by Stephen Albert

    Everyone knows what is going on in Syria.

    Ambassador Ford just released satellite pictures of Assad’ s forces stationed outside of Syrian cities and villages. The ambassador then went on to say that this calls into question Assad’s pledge to respect the Annan plan.

    As Dean points out, whatever the number of victims, the ranks of refugees,displaced people,the imprisoned and the dead will grow ever more numerous,while the world watches and scolds Assad for not playing by the rules.

  • Posted by Steve from Raleigh

    Not to worry. All the right thinking leftists and other right thinking faux revolutionary anarchist Marxist Islamic and Nazi sympathizers will blame it all on Israel and the Jews generally. Then, case closed we can all go home.

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