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Number of Syrian refugees reaches one million

  Wednesday 6th March 2013

The number of Syrian refugees fleeing the country has reached one million, the UN has said.

The one-millionth refugee recognised by the UN was a 19-year-old mother and the total estimated death toll has reached 70,000.

There have been over 10,000 deaths since January, William Hague relayed to the House of Commons earlier. He said: “That means more people have died in the first two months of this year than in the whole of the first year of the conflict.”

“Syria is spiraling towards full-scale disaster,” the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said in a statement, warning that the international humanitarian response capacity was “dangerously stretched”.

“This tragedy has to be stopped,” he added, also warning that the influx of refugees is a huge strain on Syria’s neighbouring countries. Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, and Egypt have been the countries where most of the refugees have sought refuge.

Lebanon has been the most inundated country with 332,297 refugees, swelling the country’s population by 10%.

“These countries should not only be recognised for their unstinting commitment to keeping their borders open for Syrian refugees, they should be massively supported as well,” Mr Guterres said.

Half of all refugees are children, most of who are under the age of 11, and have often been traumatised by their experiences.

As 40,000 Syrians are forced to flee each week due to the worsening humanitarian crisis, William Hague told the commons that, “the international community cannot stand still in the face of this reality. Our policy has to move towards more active efforts to prevent the loss of life in Syria and this means stepping up our support to the opposition and thereby increasing the pressure on the regime to accept a political solution.”

Labour opposition expressed concern that the foreign secretary was hinting at arming the Syrian rebels in order to help end the bloody civil war.

The violence in Syria has been ongoing for almost two years, and shows no sign of easing off as a political solution has not been found.

Eleanor Mackay

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