9 Jul 2015

Syrian crisis: 4 million refugees and counting

The number of refugees fleeing Syria has topped 4 million, according to the UN refugee agency, in what has been described as the world’s biggest refugee crisis.

As the conflict enters its fifth year with no sign of resolution, the number of refugees is expected to continue to rise dramatically.

Since the war began in 2011, with rebels attempting to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Assad, events have spiralled out of control and the country has been carved up by Islamic State forces, Kurds, Assad loyalists and al-Qaeda linked groups.

Most refugees from Syria’s four years of war are in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and Turkey, which has more refugees than any other country, with 1.8 million Syrians.

Almost 2 million Syrians have fled to Turkey while an additional 7.6 million are displaced inside Syria, according to the UN. Iraq has taken in a quarter of a million people – while Jordan has over 620,000 and Egypt has well over 125,000.

Lebanon has an estimated 1.7 million Syrians – the country’s population stands at just over 4 million.

In Europe there have been 270,000 asylum applications by Syrians.

“This is the biggest refugee population from a single conflict in a generation. It is a population that needs the support of the world but is instead living in dire conditions and sinking deeper into poverty,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said.

The UN World Food Programme has cut rations for refugees because of a lack of cash.

About 86 per cent of the 630,000 refugees in Jordan live below the poverty line of $3.2 per day, and more than half of the 1.173 million Syrians in Lebanon live in sub-standard shelters.