By Mirembe Martina
According to UN officials, people fleeing the country have reached the 2 million mark as the country’s civil war continues.
By the end of the year, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said 3.5 million people are expected to flee the country if the conflict continues. “At this particular moment it’s the highest number of displaced people anywhere in the world,” he told reporters in Geneva. “Syria has become the great tragedy of this century — a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history.”
On average, 5,000 citizens leave the country a day; the country is said to have 23 million people. The number of refugees has surged by 1.8 million in just 12 months — up from almost 231,000 a year ago. “What is appalling is that the first million fled Syria during two years. The second million fled Syria in (the past) six months,” he said of the impact of the civil war, which began as a rebellion against President Bashar Assad’s regime in March 2011. “We have now almost one-third of the Syria population that has been displaced, and half in need of assistance.”
More than 97 per cent of Syria’s refugees are hosted by countries in the neighboring region. “So there are no words to express the dimension of this tragedy,” he said. “The only solace is the humanity shown by the neighboring countries in welcoming and saving the lives of so many refugees.”
As of the end of August, the agency counted 716,000 refugees in Lebanon, 515,000 in Jordan, 460,000 in Turkey, 168,000 in Iraq and 110,000 in Egypt. It said over half of them were children.