Syria Refugees Top 3 Million; Half of Population Displaced - U.N.

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More than three million people have fled Syria’s civil war, the United Nations’ refugee agency (UNHCR) said Friday as the three-year exodus showed no sign of slowing. The record figure - more than the entire combined populations of New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont - comes amid “horrifying” conditions inside the country including “cities where populations are surrounded, people are going hungry and civilians are being indiscriminately killed,” the agency said. A further 6.5 million people have been displaced within Syria, meaning that "almost half of all Syrians have now been forced to abandon their homes and flee for their lives.”

"The Syrian crisis has become the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era, yet the world is failing to meet the needs of refugees and the countries hosting them," Antonio Guterres, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said in the statement. The majority remain in neighboring countries, with the highest concentrations in Lebanon (1.14 million), Turkey (815,000) and Jordan (608,000), the UNHCR said. Some 215,000 refugees are in Iraq with the rest in Egypt and other countries.

More than 191,000 people were killed in the first three years of Syria's civil war, a U.N. report said last week in what U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called a "wholly avoidable human catastrophe".


- Alastair Jamieson