The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has said that the number of people fleeing the war in Syria to neighbouring countries has surged since the start of 2013, reaching over one million.
“Syria is spiralling towards full-scale disaster,” said a statement by Commissioner Antonio Guterres, adding that the international humanitarian response is now “dangerously stretched.”
Most refugees have fled to Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, and the capacity of each of these countries to accommodate the large numbers of Syrian’s who have crossed the border is being seriously tested. Many refugees end up living poor conditions, with little sanitation and inadequate protection from the cold of winter. One statistic highlights the immense challenges faced by host countries more than any other – 10% of Lebanon’s total population is now made up of refugees from the civil war in Syria.
“These countries should not only be recognised for their unstinting commitment to keeping their borders open for Syrian refugees, they should be massively supported as well,” Mr Guterres said.
The UN statement comes a day after King Abdullah of Jordan appealed to the world to help his country, Turkey and Lebanon with “the tremendous burden” of housing and caring for the massive numbers of new arrivals. setting up 17 refugee camps, and is still building new ones to meet the increasing demand.
This increase in demand is dramatic – more than 400,000 people have left Syria since the start of the year.