Syria Refugees Top 3 Million With Half Of All Syrians Displaced, UN Says

Civil war in Syria has left refugees seeking asylum in bordering countries. The United Nations says that over three million Syrian refugees have registered in neighboring countries calling it the biggest operation in the UN’s 64-year history. According to ABC News, the tragic milestone means that about one of every eight Syrians has fled across the border, and 6.5 million others have been displaced within Syria since the conflict began in March 2011. These numbers mean that half of all Syrians have either fled the country or are displaced. Sadly, more than half of all those uprooted are children. UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, said:

“The Syria crisis has become the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era, yet the world is failing to meet the needs of refugees and the countries hosting them.”

Reuters reports, the record-breaking three million figure is one million refugees more than a year ago, meaning Syrians are fleeing at an astounding pace. Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie, who serves as UNHCR special envoy, told Reuters:

“Three million refugees is not just another statistic. It is a searing indictment of our collective failure to end the war in Syria.”

Though many Syrians have been able to flee the country, the remaining 6.5 million who are displaced are having difficulty making at across the border due to problems reaching open border crossings. Those who are desperate to leave the war-ridden country must resolve themselves to paying large bribes at armed checkpoints or look to a smuggler for help. The UN told ABC news, the recent surge in fighting appears to be worsening the already desperate situation for Syrian refugees, the agency said, as the extremist Islamic State group expands its control of broad areas straddling the Syria-Iraq border and terrorizes rivals and civilians in both countries.

The UN is not only dealing with refugees but also investigating potential war crimes committed by Syrian government. UN officials note that the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad likely used chlorine gas to attack civilians, who are bearing the brunt of a civil war that has killed more than 190,000 people and destabilized the region. Aside from the chlorine gas attack, widespread bombings, beheadings and mass killings have also been reported in the region as crimes against humanity.

The US may be taking action in the region according to a recent report which says the United States is pushing to build an international campaign against Islamic State jihadist fighters in Iraq and Syria, including partners for potential joint military action, Obama administration officials said on Thursday.