Exodus from war-torn Syria hits one million

Exodus from war-torn Syria hits one million

BEIRUT - The Associated Press
Exodus from war-torn Syria hits one million

A Syrian refugee walks along tents at the Al Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria February 25, 2013. REUTERS photo

The number of Syrians who have fled their war-ravaged country and are seeking assistance has now topped the 1 million mark, the U.N. refugee agency said yesterday, warning that Syria is heading towards a “full-scale disaster.”

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, said in a statement released in Geneva that the 1 million figure is based on reports from his agency’s field offices in neighboring countries that have provided refuge for Syrians escaping the civil war.

‘This tragedy has to be stopped’

“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,” Guterres said. Guterres said the number of refugees has swelled dramatically this year, with most Syrians pouring into Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. More than 400,000 people have become refugees since Jan. 1, and often arrive in neighboring countries “traumatized, without possessions and having lost members of their families,” he said. Around half are children, the majority under age 11. “We are doing everything we can to help, but the international humanitarian response capacity is dangerously stretched,” he said. “This tragedy has to be stopped.”

The U.N. in December estimated that 1.1 million Syrian refugees would arrive in neighboring countries by the end of June this year. At the time, the agency’s regional response plan was only 25 percent funded, and it is now in the process of adjusting that in light of the new figures, Guterres said.
In Beirut, UNHCR stated that 7,000 Syrians have been crossing into neighboring countries every day. This has reportedly stretched the resources of states like Lebanon and Jordan, and has made the refugee crisis one of the fastest deteriorating situations in decades.