Syria’s refugee count has dramatically increased from 200,000 to two million people in the course of the last year, according to data from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released earlier this week.
In the last six months alone, the number rose from one million to two million, half of which are children, a total registered since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in March 2011.
In a press release, UNHCR stressed that most of the people forced to seek asylum in neighbouring countries cross the borders with little more than the clothes on their backs.
Statistics show that 700,000 of these refugees fled to Lebanon, while the remaining are scattered across Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Northern Africa and Europe.
The refugee authority believes that these numbers should serve as an alarm for Syria’s escalating violence and degrading conditions, especially because the bordering countries are losing their capacity to take in more refugees.
António Guterres, former Portuguese Prime Minister and current United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, described Syria as a “humanitarian calamity” which accounts for an “unparalleled” number of refugees. He added that the gravity of the situation is being minimised, however, by the goodwill of Syria’s neighbouring countries.
Actress Angelina Jolie, UNHCR’s special envoy, warned in a statement that “if the situation continues to deteriorate at this rate, the number of refugees will only grow and some neighbouring countries could be brought to the point of collapse.’’
The United Nation’s children’s agency UNICEF and UNHCR had already announced on August 23 that one million Syrian children had been forced to flee for their lives.
“This is not just another number. It is a real child ripped from home, maybe even from a family, facing horrors we can only begin to comprehend,” said the head of UNICEF, Anthony Lake.
The data concerning refugees comes at a time of imminent war. American President Barack Obama is awaiting approval from Congress to begin using force in the Middle-Eastern country, while France continues to support an armed assault against Syria.
The conflict comes as a result of the Syrian regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons against rebels and the general population, which killed more than a thousand people, including woman and children, on August 21.
According to United Nations data, the civil war has led to the death of over 100,000 people.