Syrian refugees top 3 million: UN
UNITED NATIONS: More than three million people have fled Syria's civil war, the United Nations' refugee agency (UNHCR) said Friday as the three-year exodus showed no sign of slowing.
The record figure comes amid "horrifying" conditions inside the country including "cities where populations are sur- rounded, people are going hungry and civilians are being indiscriminately killed," the agency said.
A further 6.5 million people have been displaced within Syria, meaning that "almost half of all Syrians have now been forced to abandon their homes and flee for their lives."
"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," said High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.
And UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie said: "Three million refugees is not just another statistic. It is a searing indictment of our collective failure to end the war in Syria."
UNHCR Spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told a press briefing in Geneva Friday that increasing numbers of families are 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 their country.
The vast majority remained in countries neighbouring Syria, with the highest concentrations in Lebanon (1.14 million), Jordan (608,000) and Turkey (815,000), according to UNHCR.
In addition to the 3 million registered refugees, govern- ments estimated that hundreds of thousands more Syrians had sought sanctuary in their countries with more than four in five refugees struggling to make a living in towns and cities outside of camps, with 38 percent living in sub-standard shelter, according to a recent survey.
Syrians are now the world's largest refugee population under UNHCR care, second only in number to the decadeslong Palestinian crisis.
The Syria operation is now the largest in the agency's 64year history. Jens Laerke, Spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), stated that more than 191,000
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