The United Nations reported that 11,000 Syrians fled to neighboring countries Friday, the vast majority clambering for safety over the Turkish border, in one of the largest single-day torrents of refugees since the Syrian conflict began. It came as mayhem and deprivations were worsening inside the country, its president more determined than ever to stay and his fractious enemies still politically paralyzed.
U.N. refugee agency officials said 9,000 of the fleeing Syrians, many of them drenched from a cold rain, went to Turkey. The flow alarmed Turkish officials and led their prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to vent at the five permanent members of the Security Council for what he called their failure to respond decisively to the crisis after nearly 20 months.
“The world cannot be left to what the five permanent members have to say," Erdogan told a conference in Indonesia. “If we leave it to the five permanent members, humanity will continue to bleed."
Panos Moumtzis, the U.N. refugee agency official coordinating the response, told reporters in Geneva, where the agency is based, that the latest surge included 1,000 Syrians who reached Lebanon and 1,000 who reached Jordan, bringing the number of registered refugees to more than 408,000 in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. Agency officials said a few weeks ago that they had anticipated that more than 700,000 Syrian refugees would be living in these countries by year’s end, straining their resources just as the cold Middle East winter intensifies.
The agency’s figures do not include Syrians who have fled without registering, a number believed to be in the tens of thousands in Jordan alone.
Turkish officials said more than half the Syrians who fled into Turkey on Friday had been seeking to escape combat between insurgents and loyalist forces near Ras al-Ain, a northeast border town where fighting has raged for days.
The arrivals who crossed the Turkish border at Reyhanli in Hatay province included 26 Syrian Army defectors, with two generals and 11 colonels among them, the semiofficial Anatolian News Agency of Turkey reported.