Refugees from Syria report harsh conditions in Al Qusayr and difficulties reaching safety

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Syrian refugees at a collective shelter in the city of Arsal in the Bekaa Valley, 100 kilometres from the Lebanese capital, Beirut. [UNHCR /S. Malkawi]

In Syria, with the battle for Al Qusayr now into its third week, UNHCR has been seeing small numbers of Qusayri refugees arriving in eastern Lebanon.

The agency says according to a number of interviews done so far, it appears that a new route for displaced people has opened up from the Qusayr area towards Arsal in Lebanon, about 100 kilometres away.

UNHCR Spoksperson Melissa Fleming says refugees in Lebanon tell of an extremely difficult journey, made on foot, as fighters in Syria are said to be targeting people as they try to flee the violence.

“There are checkpoints all over the place. No route out of Qusayr is considered safe and there are continued reports that there are between 700 and 1,500 injured civilians trapped inside Qusayr. We are not in a position, as are our partners, in a position to verify this as there is no humanitarian access into the city. We can confirm that most of those who have fled are women and children and this is a bit ominous because they say it is unsafe for them to flee with men who have a heightened risk or being arrested or killed at checkpoints along the way.”

Spokesperson Melissa Flemming says none of the refugees are able to tell who these people are at the check points.

But they say Qusay itself is described as a ghost town, heavily damaged, and filled with the sound of bombs. People are said to be hiding in bunkers or holes dug as shelters.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’23″

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