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Syrian Refugees Exceed Two Millions: UN

Published: 03/09/2013 12:18:26 PM GMT
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CAIRO - The United Nations' refugee agency has warned that a grim tragedy was developing in Syria after refugees escaping for their lives from the raging war exceeded two millions, with a Syrian becoming a refugee each fiftee (more)

CAIRO - The United Nations' refugee agency has warned that a grim tragedy was developing in Syria after refugees escaping for their lives from the raging war exceeded two millions, with a Syrian becoming a refugee each fifteen seconds.

“Syria has become the great tragedy of this century,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said in a statement published on the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Tuesday, September 3.

“The only solace is the humanity shown by the neighboring countries in welcoming and saving the lives of so many refugees.”

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The shocking UNHCR report warned that the number of Syrians forced to seek shelter abroad since civil war began in March 2011 passed the 2 million mark with no sign of the outflow ending 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 UN refugee agency 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," UNHCR said.

One year ago today, the number of Syrians registered as refugees or awaiting registration stood at about 230,670 people.

Almost 5,000 citizens a day on average are flowing out of Syria — a country of some 23 million people — many of them with little more than the clothes they are wearing, Guterres said.

"What is appalling is that the first million fled Syria during two years. The second million fled Syria in (the past) six months," he said of the impact of the civil war, which began as a rebellion against President Bashar Assad's regime in March 2011.

"We have now almost one-third of the Syria population that has been displaced, and half in need of assistance."

The 2 million figure represents Syrians who have registered as refugees or who are pending registration.

According the UN figures by the end of last month, refugees were divided by 110,000 in Egypt, 168,000 in Iraq, 515,000 in Jordan, 716,000 in Lebanon and 460,000 in Turkey.

Some 52 per cent of this population are children aged 17 years or below. UNHCR announced only days ago that the number of Syrian child refugees had exceeded 1 million.

A further 4.25 million people are displaced inside Syria, according to data from the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

World Disaster

Dismayed at the increasing level of dangers facing Syrians, UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie warned that the world was facing a looming humanitarian disaster.

"The world risks being dangerously complacent about the Syrian humanitarian disaster,” she 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 neighboring countries could be brought to the point of collapse," she said.

Jolie added that the world was "tragically disunited" on how to end the Syria conflict.

"But there should be no disagreement over the need to alleviate human suffering, and no doubt of the world's responsibility to do more. We have to support the millions of innocent people ripped from their homes, and increase the ability of neighboring countries to cope with the influx."

The UNHCR's statement comes as the US administration continues to beat war drums since last August 21st suspected chemical weapons attack near Damascus which killed more than 1300.

Last Saturday, US President Barack Obama said that his country should use military force to punish Syria for using chemical weapons but said he will first seek congressional approval.

The surprise announcement has effectively delayed any US military operation in Syria until after the summer recess, which ends on Sept. 9.

The US declaration comes as UN experts have gathered evidence in Syria to determine whether chemical weapons attacks have taken place. They are now analyzing samples

Arab League foreign ministers have also urged the world community to "take the deterrent and necessary measures" against Syria.

But several members - including Lebanon and Iraq - did not back the call.

Reproduced with permission from