UNHCR: Syrian refugees cross four million mark

NEW YORK: The number of people fleeing the civil war in Syria has now passed four million, according to the UN refugee agency.

An overwhelming majority of the refugees have fled to neighbouring countries, with Turkey hosting nearly two million alone, UNHCR said in a report released on Thursday.

This is the biggest refugee population from a single conflict in a generation.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres

The conflict in Syria has led to what UNHCR described as the world’s single largest refugee crisis in almost a quarter of a century under the agency’s mandate.

UNHCR said a surge in new refugee arrivals in Turkey had pushed the total number of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries to over 4,013,000 people. An additional 7.6 million people are displaced inside Syria, the report said.

The more than 1.8 million Syrians in Turkey have made the country the biggest host of refugees in the world.

Nearly 249,726 refugees have been sheltered in Iraq, while Jordan hosts 629,128 and Egypt and Lebanon are home to 132,375 and 1,172,753 respectively.

The report does not include 270,000 asylum applications by Syrians in Europe, and the thousands of others resettled from the region elsewhere.

“This is the biggest refugee population from a single conflict in a generation. It is a population that needs the support of the world but is instead living in dire conditions and sinking deeper into poverty,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.

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The Syrian conflict has entered in its fifth year but with little hope in sight of a possible solution and the number of people fleeing the war zone is rising.

In the past 10 months, more than one million people have been forced to become refugees.

UNHCR said that at this rate, the figure is expected to reach around 4.27 million by the end of the year.

“Worsening conditions are driving growing numbers towards Europe and further afield, but the overwhelming majority remain in the region,” Guterres said.

In June alone, more than 24,000 people arrived in Turkey from Syria’s Tel Abyad, where fighting had been raging between Kurdish armed groups and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant fighters, and other parts of northern Syria.

More than 220,000 people have been reported killed in Syria since anti-government protests broke out in March 2011.

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