Over two million Syrians have now fled their war-ravaged country, according to the UN refugee agency, marking the nearly 10-fold increase from a year ago.
In addition to the two million Syrians living as refugees, another 4.25 million people have been displaced within the country since the conflict began in March 2011, UN figures show.
“Syria is haemorrhaging women, children and men who cross borders often with little more than the clothes on their backs,” the UNHCR said in a statement on Tuesday, pointing out that on September 3, 2012, it had registered just 230,671 Syrian refugees.
A total of 6.2 million Syrians have thus been displaced from their homes, a number without parallel in any other country and representing nearly a third of Syria’s pre-war population of 20.8 million.
“Syria has become the great tragedy of this century,” Antonio Guterres, the UN high commissioner for refugees, said in a statement, describing the situation in the country as “a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history”.
The only solace, he said, “is the humanity shown by the neighbouring countries in welcoming and saving the lives of so many refugees”.
In the past 12 months, almost 1.8 million people have fled Syria, and an average of 5,000 continue to cross into neighbouring countries each day, UNHCR said, pointing out that on August 23, the number of Syrian children living as refugees topped one million.
The influx is placing an overwhelming burden on the host countries, UNHCR said.
At the end of August, about 716,000 Syrian refugees were registered or in the process of being registered in Lebanon, 515,000 in Jordan, 460,000 in Turkey, 168,000 in Iraq and 110,000 in Egypt, according to the agency’s numbers.
Thousands of migrants have also arrived in the past few weeks in Sicily, many of them coming from Egypt or Syria, among migrants from sub-Saharan Africa.
The Italian Interior Ministry estimates that 3,000 Syrian migrants arrived in Italy from the beginning of this year up until the end of August.
Although the number of people fleeing Syria has been increasing as the war lingers, the recent surge is partly because of the imminent strike from the West over President Assad’s alleged use of Chemical weapons, as Syrians have been running for their safety since the United States announced that President Assad would pay for his sins.