TRIPOLI - Arriving traumatized, without possessions and having lost relatives, the number of Syrian refugees fleeing two years of bloodshed in their country has reached the one-million mark.
"The situation is very bad for us, Bushra, a hijab-clad Syrian mother, told Reuters Wednesday, March 6, as she waited at Lebanon's main registration center in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli.
We can't find work.
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"I live with 20 people in one room. We can't find any other house as it is too expensive, said the 19-year-old mother of two, who registered as the millionth Syrian refugee.
We want to return to Syria. We wish for the crisis to be resolved."
The United Nations refugee agency said Wednesday the number of Syrians who fled their country reached one million.
Around half the refugees are children, most of them aged under 11, and the numbers leaving are mounting every week.
"With a million people in flight, millions more displaced internally, and thousands of people continuing to cross the border every day, Syria is spiraling towards full-scale disaster," UN High Commissioner for Refugees AntÃ³nio Guterres said in a statement.
"We are doing everything we can to help, but the international humanitarian response capacity is dangerously stretched.
In addition to the refugees, more than two million of Syria's 22 million people have been internally displaced.
UNHCR said more than four million Syrians need humanitarian assistance.
The UN refugee agency said the number of Syrians quitting their country has increased dramatically since the beginning of the year with more than 400,000 - nearly half the total - leaving since January 1.
Most have fled to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt and some to North Africa and Europe, arriving traumatized, without possessions and having lost relatives, it said.
This tragedy has to be stopped," said Guterres.
Syrians started trickling out of the country nearly two years ago when President Bashar al-Assad's forces shot at pro-democracy protests inspired by Arab Spring revolutions.
The uprising has since turned into an increasingly sectarian struggle between armed opposition and government soldiers and militias.
An estimated 70,000 people have been killed.
Adding to their plight, many Syrian refugees are unable to find jobs in host countries to feed their children.
"I've looked for work (in Lebanon) but there is none, Ghasssam Mahmoud, a mechanic, told Reuters.
Mahmoud had brought his two wives and 12 children from the northern Lebanese province of Akkar to the refugee registration center in Tripoli after failing to find a job.
When it comes along, I'll do it," said Mahmoud, who had escaped Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province.
The Syrian father had waited for two months to be registered due to the backlog.
Several hundred families, mostly women and children, sat behind Mahmoud waiting to be registered.
Sixteen offices made of wood and plastic have been built where the families are interviewed. Some have high walls to protect the identities of victims of sexual abuse.
Lebanon, whose population is only four million, hosts the highest number of refugees, with arrivals doubling to 4,400 a day in the past three weeks, UNHCR representative in Lebanon Ninette Kelley told Reuters.
Including Syrian workers and self-supporting Syrian families, one in five people in Lebanon is now Syrian.
Despite pledges of $1.5 billion by international donors for a UN response plan to help Srian refugees, only 25 percent has been funded, UNHCR said.
In Jordan, a country of six million, the refugee influx has strained energy, water, health and education services to the limit.
Turkey says it has spent more than $600 million setting up 17 refugee camps, with more under construction.
But Fuat Oktay, president of the country's disaster and relief management body, AFAD, said on Wednesday the overall cost of caring for the refugees was closer to $1.5 billion.
There is no end in sight to the conflict in Syria, which has divided world powers.
Russia and Shiite Iran support Assad, while the United States, along with some European and Sunni Muslim Gulf Arab nations back a fractured opposition.Damascus and some of its opponents have said they will consider peace talks, but no meetings have been arranged.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net