Syrians largest refugee group after Palestinians
Updated: 2015-01-07 16:31
Syrian refugees reinforce their tents at a tented settlement in Akkar, northern Lebanon ahead of a powerful winter storm sweeping Lebanon January 6, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]
GENEVA - Syrians have overtaken Afghans as the largest refugee population aside from Palestinians, fleeing to more than 100 countries to escape war in their homeland, the United Nations said on Wednesday.
At more than 3 million as of mid-2014, Syrians accounted for nearly one in four of the 13 million refugees worldwide being assisted by the UN refugee agency, the highest figure since 1996, it said in a report. Some 5 million Palestinians refugees are cared for by a separate agency, UNRWA.
"As long as the international community continues to fail to find political solutions to existing conflicts and to prevent new ones from starting, we will continue to have to deal with the dramatic humanitarian consequences," UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said in a statement.
At least 200,000 people have died and half the Syrian population has been displaced since the conflict began in March 2011 with protests that spiralled into civil war.
Worldwide, an estimated 5.5 million people were forcibly uprooted during the first six months of last year, 1.4 million of them fleeing abroad, the UNHCR said.