Two Million Flee Syria

[Mohammad Hannon / AP]

[Mohammad Hannon / AP]

Syria’s refugee crisis is escalating, with the number of people having fled its borders doubling to 2m in the past six months, the UN has warned.

The UNHCR, the body’s refugee agency, said on Tuesday that the refugee total a year ago stood at 230,670. Today’s 2m total includes all those registered as refugees and awaiting registration.

 “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 agency said in a statement.

António Guterres, the UN high commissioner for refugees, said Syria had become “a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history”.

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

Tiny, volatile Lebanon has received the biggest number of refugees, both in per capita and absolute terms. UNHCR puts it at 720,000, but some estimates say as many as a million refugees have entered this country of 4m, and the government is under pressure to control the increase.

Many in Lebanon see the influx of Palestinian refugees after the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 as one of the triggers for the country’s 15-year civil war, and, wary of the example, the Lebanese government has so far not allowed the creation of refugee camps.

This means Syrian refugees are dispersed among the population, often in the poorest areas, where locals complain they drive up the cost of housing. Thousands are living in temporary accommodation, in tents and on construction sites.

With the influx showing no sign of stopping, relations with host communities are becoming strained. There are reports of Syrian refugees being put under curfew in some towns in the mountains. In Beirut, streets once bustling with well-heeled shoppers are now crowded with destitute Syrians begging for money.

Read more at The Financial Times


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