Syria: More than a million people fled civil war

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THE number of Syrians who have fled their war-ravaged country and are seeking assistance has now topped the one million mark, the UN refugee agency said yesterday.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, said the figure is based on reports from his agency’s field offices in countries neighbouring Syria that have provided safe haven for refugees escaping the civil war.

He said: “With a million people in flight, millions more displaced internally, and thousands of people continuing to cross the border every day, Syria is spiralling towards full-scale disaster.”

Syria’s population is about 22 million.

In addition, several hundred thousand Syrians who have fled their country have not yet registered as refugees, suggesting the total number is well over one million, said Adrian Edwards, a spokesman for the UN refugee agency.

The pace of refugees fleeing the battered country has picked up dramatically over the past three months. In Lebanon, 19-year-old Bushra, a mother of two, became the millionth Syrian refugee registered in the region since the conflict began.

She said: “Our life conditions are very bad. It is very expensive here [in Lebanon] and we cannot find any work.”

She asked to be identified with her first name only, for fear of government reprisals.