One million refugees flee Syria war: UN
AFPDAMASCUS--One million Syrians have fled their homeland since a revolt erupted two years ago, the U.N. said on Wednesday, as fighting between rebels and loyalists raged across central and northern battlefields.
March 7, 2013, 12:00 am TWN
“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,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said in a statement issued in Geneva.
“We are doing everything we can to help, but the international humanitarian response capacity is dangerously stretched. This tragedy has to be stopped.”
Only a year ago, the U.N. agency had only registered 33,000 refugees. The exodus has intensified this year, the UNHCR said, with 400,000 Syrians fleeing their country since Jan. 1.
The refugees have fled primarily to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, but increasingly they are trying to reach North Africa and Europe, the UNHCR said.
The U.N.'s announcement comes nearly two years after the eruption of what started as a peaceful uprising against President Bashar al-Assad but which escalated into civil war when the army launched a brutal crackdown on dissent.
Guterres's announcement came as U.N. emergency relief coordinator, Valerie Amos, said that in Syria four million people are in need of assistance and more than US$1.4 billion in aid is required to assist them for the next four months.
On the battlefront, the army used warplanes and helicopters Wednesday to press a fierce four-day assault on rebel zones in the center of Homs, eight months into a suffocating army siege of parts of the central city, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Syrian refugee Bushra, 19, who fled her house from Homs 17 days ago, holds her son Omar, 2, as she registers at the UNHCR center in the northern city of Tripoli, Lebanon, ...