UN: Syria refugees could double or even triple by end of 2013


Bushra (C-top), who is the 1,000,000th registered Syrian refugee at the UNHCR, sits among children inside a shanty rented by her missing husband's family in a poor neighbourhood at the entrance of the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli on March 7, 2013. The number of Syrians who have fled their country since a deadly civil conflict erupted two years ago has hit one million, the UN's refugee agency said on March 6.


Joseph Eid

The number of Syrian refugees could double or even triple by the end of 2013, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees warned on Sunday.

Antonio Guterres said the UNHCR could only "mitigate" the suffering of the people and that a solution to the ongoing conflict lies with "those that have political responsibilities."

"Now if this escalation goes on and nothing happens to solve the problem we might have in the end of the year a much larger number of refugees: twice or three times the present level," said Guterres, Agence France-Presse reported.

His dire pronouncement comes just days after the number of refugees from Syria hit the 1 million mark, with a refugee registered in Jordan, according to Reuters

Guterres was speaking in Ankara, where he was visiting to survey the refugee situation, the Associated Press reported. Turkey has taken in over 185,000 Syrians at its various refugee camps, Reuters reported.

The UNHCR urged the international community to help Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt, all of which are struggling to absorb the continual flow of refugees, roughly half of whom are children, CBC News reported

Guterres said there was a "risk of an explosion" in the already-volatile region should the Syrian conflict and subsequent population displacement continue. 

The number of refugees fleeing the war-torn country has risen at an alarming rate: from 3,000 refugees a day in December to 8,000 in February, Reuters reported. 

The conflict has left an estimated 70,000 people dead. 

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