With an estimated 5,000 desperate Syrians fleeing their homes every day, the spiralling violence in the country has now created more than 2 million refugees, the United Nations refugee agency announced today, adding that there is no sign the “humanitarian calamity” will end anytime soon.
“The war is now well into its third year and Syria is haemorrhaging women, children and men who cross borders often with little more than the clothes on their backs,” the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement released to mark the milestone. “This trend is nothing less than alarming, representing a jump of almost 1.8 million people in 12 months.”
One year ago today, the number of Syrians registered as refugees or awaiting registration stood at about 230,670 people.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said Syria had become “a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history.” He added that “the only solace is the humanity shown by the neighbouring countries in welcoming and saving the lives of so many refugees.”
More than 97 per cent of Syria’s refugees are hosted by countries in the immediate surrounding region. As of the end August, the number of Syrians registered as refugees or pending registration was 110,000 in Egypt, 168,000 in Iraq, 515,000 in Jordan, 716,000 in Lebanon and 460,000 in Turkey. Over half of them are children under 17 years of age.
The refugee crisis has placed an overwhelming burden on the host countries’ infrastructures, economies and societies, and with an average of almost 5,000 Syrians fleeing into these countries every day, the need for international support has reached a critical stage.
“The world risks being dangerously complacent about the Syrian humanitarian disaster,” said UNHCR Special Envoy and renowned actress, Angelina Jolie. “The tide of human suffering unleashed by the conflict has catastrophic implications. If the situation continues to deteriorate at this rate, the number of refugees will only grow, and some neighbouring countries could be brought to the point of collapse.”