Two million Syrians have now fled their country’s brutal and escalating civil war, according to the UN. Half of the refugees are children, the majority of whom have left in the last 12 months. "The war is now well into its third year and Syria is hemorrhaging women, children and men who cross borders often with little more than the clothes on their backs," UNHCR said in a statement. Another 4.25 million are displaced inside Syria, making it number one in the world for forcibly displaced citizens. A tragic milestone.
More than 97 per cent of Syria's refugees are hosted by countries in the immediate surrounding region, placing an overwhelming burden on their infrastructures, economies and societies. They urgently need massive international support to help deal with the crisis.
UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie, meanwhile, expressed her dismay at the level of death, damage and danger that has forced so many Syrians to run for their lives.
"The world risks being dangerously complacent about the Syrian humanitarian disaster. The tide of human suffering unleashed by the conflict has catastrophic implications. If the situation continues to deteriorate at this rate, the number of refugees will only grow, and some neighbouring countries could be brought to the point of collapse," she said.
Jolie added that the world was "tragically disunited" on how to end the Syria conflict. "But there should be no disagreement over the need to alleviate human suffering, and no doubt of the world's responsibility to do more. We have to support the millions of innocent people ripped from their homes, and increase the ability of neighbouring countries to cope with the influx."
On August 23rd, the United Nations announced that one million children had been registered as refugees.
"What is at stake is nothing less than the survival and wellbeing of a generation of innocents," António Guterres, High Commissioner of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) that has counted each member of the exodus, said in Geneva.
"The youth of Syria are losing their homes, their family members and their futures. Even after they have crossed a border to safety, they are traumatized, depressed and in need of a reason for hope."
According to the numbers available last month, figures show that of the one million Syrian refugees under the age of 18, some 740,000 are children under the age of 11.
"We must all share the shame," said Lake, "because while we work to alleviate the suffering of those affected by this crisis, the global community has failed in its responsibility to this child. We should stop and ask ourselves how, in all conscience, we can continue to fail the children of Syria."
UNHCR and UNICEF both highlight the threats to refugee children from child labor, early marriage and the potential for sexual exploitation and trafficking. Over 3,500 child refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq alone have crossed Syria's borders separated from their families.