(GENEVA) — As expected, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced on Wednesday that the number of Syrians who have fled the country, which has been embroiled in a bloody two-year civil war that has cost more than 70,000 lives, has reached one million.
In a statement, António Guterres said, “With a million people in flight, millions more displaced internally, and thousands of people continuing to cross the border every day, Syria is spiralling towards full-scale disaster. We are doing everything we can to help, but the international humanitarian response capacity is dangerously stretched. This tragedy has to be stopped.”
The commissioner had predicted the toll would hit the one million mark last week.
The UNHCR says more than 400,000 Syrians have become refugees since the beginning of the year, with the majority fleeing to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.
Those neighboring countries have been greatly impacted by the mass exodus, Guterres says. Lebanon has seen its population rise by as much as 10 percent, while Jordan’s energy, water, health and education services have been severely strained. Turkey, meanwhile, has already invested over $600 million establishing 17 refugee camps, with more planned.
“These countries should not only be recognized for their unstinting commitment to keeping their borders open for Syrian refugees, they should be massively supported as well,” Guterres said.
Guterres is expected to travel to the region later this week to visit UNHCR operations in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Barbie Latza Nadeau, Livia Borghese and Joshua Berlinger, CNN
Arthur Brice, CNN