OTTAWA, 14 May 2013—The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is raising the alarm over the continuous massive exodus and the growing humanitarian needs caused by the conflict in Syria.

UNHCR estimates there are now nearly 1.5 million registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. The refugee crisis has continued to accelerate over the last few months, especially since fighting escalated during the summer of 2012. Daily arrival figures averaged 3,000 people in December, 5,000 in January, and 8,000 in February. In recent weeks, there were several days with as many as 14,000 people crossing the borders into neighbouring countries in the space of 24 hours.

‘The refugee numbers are significant, but they cannot convey the full extent of the tragedy. Most refugees have lost family members and everything they once ownedhomes, businesses, and livelihoods,’ said Mr. Furio De Angelis, UNHCR Representative in Canada.

‘There are harrowing reports of rape and sexual abuse of women and children inside Syria. In the neighbouring countries, we see the level of trauma in those who manage to flee.’

UNHCR is appealing to donor governments to urgently approve extraordinary funding for the victims of the Syria crisis, to ensure that their most basic needs can be met and the stability of the region preserved. UNHCR is appreciative of the contribution that Canada, other leading members of the international community and private donors worldwide have offered in response to this emergency.

Nevertheless, UNHCR and its partners have received just over 50% of the funding needed to assist the victims of the Syria crisis. The ongoing large-scale displacement from Syria across the region continues to require an urgent response to address the needs of refugees.

The lack of adequate funding for Syria, in a region already suffering from lingering crises nearby, risks to turn the present conflict into a disaster that could overwhelm the international response capacity, with political, security and humanitarian consequences. This must not be allowed to happen.


For more information:
Gisèle Nyembwe, 613-232 0909 ext 225, email:

UNHCR leads and coordinates the response to the Syrian refugee situation in the host countries, working closely with the host governments and our UN and NGO partners. UNHCR currently has three offices inside Syria and 13 in the four neighbouring countries that have been receiving the majority of Syrian refugees (Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq). There are over 2,000 UNHCR staff working in these five countries.

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