More than 2 million refugees have fled Syria’s civil war, stretching services in neighbouring countries to breaking point, the UN’s refugee agency said Tuesday.
The sea of men, women and children crossing borders has leapt by almost 1.8 million people in 12 months, figures released by the UNHCR showed. An average of 5,000 Syrians seek refuge in neighbouring countries every day. “Syria has become the great tragedy of this century – a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history,” said Antonio Guterres, the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees. Neighbouring countries host more than 97 per cent of Syrian 2 million refugees, with the majority in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. A further 4.25 million people have been displaced inside Syria by the fighting, the UNHCR said. Angelina Jolie, UNHCR special envoy, said: “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 will be brought to the point of collapse.” Ministers from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey are due to meet with the United Nations in Geneva on Wednesday in a bid to raise more international aid. The Syrian conflict, now well into its third year, prompted the UN to launch the biggest appeal in its history, for more than $5bn in aid. Part of the appeal, the Syria Regional Refugee Response plan, calls for $3bn dollars to address the acute needs of refugees until December of this year. The appeal is currently only 47 per cent funded. The UN last month said the number of Syrian children forced to flee their embattled homeland had reached 1 million, with most of those affected under 11. Some 7,000 children have been killed since the conflict began, the UN refugee agency UNHCR and UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said. “The only solace is the humanity shown by the neighbouring countries in welcoming and saving the lives of so many refugees,” Guterres said.