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Syrian Refugees Reach Three Million

Published: 29/08/2014 03:47:41 PM GMT
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NEW YORK – Three years of civil war have forced more than three million Syrians to flee their country, a third of them during the past year along, the United Nations said in its report issued on Friday, August 29. The Syrian crisis has become the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era, yet the world is failing to meet the needs of refu...(more)

NEW YORK – Three years of civil war have forced more than three million Syrians to flee their country, a third of them during the past year along, the United Nations said in its report issued on Friday, August 29.

"The Syrian crisis has become the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era, yet the world is failing to meet the needs of refugees and the countries hosting them," UN refugee chief Antonio Guterres said in the statement.

"The response to the Syrian crisis has been generous, but the bitter truth is that it falls far short of what’s needed," he added.

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Less than a year ago, the number of registered Syrian refugees stood at two million, according to UNHCR records.

However, a series of reports of "increasingly horrifying conditions inside the country" have led to the surge.

It described "cities where populations are surrounded, people are going hungry and civilians are being targeted or indiscriminately killed."

"Syria's intensifying refugee crisis will today surpass a record three million people," the UN's refugee agency said in a statement, adding that the number did not include hundreds of thousands of others who fled without registering as refugees.

Most of the Syrian refugees have found their way to neighboring countries, with Lebanon hosting 1.14 million, Jordan 608,000 and Turkey 815,000.

The UN agency for refugees added that the strain on the host countries' economies, infrastructures and resources is "enormous".

It added that nearly 40 percent of the refugees were living in sub-standard conditions.

The agency said its work to help the Syrian refugees now marked the largest operation in its 64-year-history.

The increasingly fragmented conflict raging in Syria has claimed more than 191,000 lives since erupting in March 2011.

In addition to the refugees, the violence has also displaced 6.5 million people within the country, meaning that nearly 50 percent of all Syrians have been forced to flee their homes, UNHCR said.

Over half of all those who have been uprooted are children, it lamented.

Shocking State

The UNHRC warned that increasing numbers of families were arriving in a shocking state, exhausted, scared and with their savings depleted.

"Most have been on the run for a year or more, fleeing from village to village before taking the final decision to leave," the statement said.

"There are worrying signs too that the journey out of Syria is becoming tougher, with many people forced to pay bribes at armed checkpoints proliferating along the borders.

“Refugees crossing the desert into eastern Jordan are being forced to pay smugglers hefty sums (ranging from $100 per person or more) to take them to safety," it added.

More than half of those arriving in Lebanon had fled at least once before crossing the border, while one in 10 had fled more than three times, UNHCR said, adding that one woman claimed to have moved no fewer than 20 times before crossing into Lebanon.

Meanwhile there are worrying signs that the journey out of Syria is becoming more difficult, the agency said.

Many people are being forced to pay bribes at a growing number of armed checkpoints along the borders, and those crossing the desert into eastern Jordan are being forced to pay smugglers hefty sums to take them to safety, it said.

The agency also voiced deep concern for several hundred Syrians trapped inside the remote al Obaidi refugee camp in Iraq after UN agencies and other groups were forced to abandon their offices and warehouses as the region became overrun by Islamic State jihadists.

"National partners are continuing to provide supplies and maintenance, but the situation is volatile," it said.

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