A Syrian refugee boy stands outside his tent at Atmeh refugee camp, in the northern Syrian province of Idlib. Hussein Malla/AP/Press Association Images
Civil War

There are now one million Syrian refugees

“This tragedy has to be stopped,” says UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres. The refugees arrive “traumatised, without possessions and having lost members of their families”.

A MILLION PEOPLE have been forced to leave their homes in Syria because of the ongoing bloody conflict across the country.

The data, cited by the United Nations, shows that one million people have crossed the border into neighbouring countries offering assistance.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said there are “millions more displaced internally” and “thousands continuing to cross the border every day”.

“Syria is spiralling towards full-scale disaster,” he added. “We are doing everything we can to help but the international humanitarian response is dangerously stretched. This tragedy has to be stopped.”

Syrian refugee children stand outside their tent, at a temporary refugee camp in the eastern Lebanese town of Marj near the border. (Image: Hussein Malla/AP/Press Association Images)

The number of refugees fleeing Syria has increased dramatically since the beginning of this year. More than 400,000 people have become refugees since 1 January.

According to the UN refugee agency, they arrive in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt “traumatised, without possessions and having lost members of their families”.

About half the refugees recorded by the UNHCR office are children, many under the age of 11.

“This [overall] number translates into one million people who are dependent on the generosity of host countries, the response of humanitarian agencies and the financial support of governments and individuals,” continued Guterres.

Syrian refugee children who fled their houses with their parents in Syria to Lebanon sit inside a tent, at a temporary refugee camp in the eastern Lebanese town of Marj. (Image: Hussein Malla/AP/Press Association Images)

The impact on the large number of of refugees in neighbouring countries is severe and the Commissioner said they should be recognised for their “unstinting commitment to keeping their borders open”.

  • Lebanon’s population has increased by as much as 10 per cent.
  • Jordan’s energy, water, health and education services are being strained to the limit.
  • Turkey has spent more than US$600 million setting up 17 refugee camps (with more on the way).
  • Iraq, which is dealing with its own crisis and displaced citizens, has received more than 100,000 Syrians in the past 12 months.

Guterres called for more support for these countries.

In December, the UN’s Regional Response Plan for Syrian Refugees estimated that 1.1 million Syrian refugees would arrive in neighbouring countries by the end of June 2013. UNHCR is in the process of adjusting this plan, in light of the new figures. Currently, it is only about 25 per cent funded.

Without a political solution to the conflict, Guterres said, “at a minimum, humanitarian actors should receive the funds needed to save lives and ease suffering”.

The Syria crisis, which kicked off with a popular uprising against leader Bashar Assad, will be two years old next week.

PICS: The ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ of Syrian refugee camps

Read: Syrian conflict spills into Iraq as dozens killed in ambush

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