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Inside Syria

Syria: 'Unparalleled human suffering'

UN refugee agency highlights a sobering perspective of the tragedy that has become a reality for millions of Syrians.

Last updated: 01 Dec 2013 11:39
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The conflict in Syria that has gone on for more than two years, has caused the world's worst refugee crisis in 20 years - families have been torn apart, entire communities have been ruined, and schools and hospitals destroyed..

It has killed at least a 100,000 people, and left another 6.5 million Syrians internally displaced.

"The level of human sufferings that I am witnessing with the Syria crisis is indeed without a parallel with anything else I have witnessed in my own life," says Antonio Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

This is the biggest refugee crisis since the genocide in Rwanda and if it goes on and on like it has been in the past few months, it risks becoming the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War.

Antonio Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

The UNHCR estimates there are more than two million Syrians who have fled from their homeland. This number takes into account registered refugees as well as those awaiting registration.

In Lebanon, almost 830,000 refugees have refugee status or are in the process of obtaining it, and over 559,000 Syrians have escaped to Jordan and are known to the authorities there.

More than 522,000 Syrian refugees are known to have fled to Turkey, while another 207,000 refugees have registered in Iraq.

Egypt hosts over 128,000 UN-registered Syrian refugees, and another 17,000 have been registered in the rest of North Africa

The war is also robbing hundreds of thousands of children of a chance to learn and grow in the best possible way.

"You go to schools where Syrian refugees are and you see that their drawings are mostly of houses being bombed, or people being killed or bodies on ground," says Guterres. "This trauma by violence is the biggest threat for the future of Syria."

Even in the countries that have given them a new home, Syrian refugee children are not safe. Many are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse because they have to work to provide for their families.

"Girls are driven to prostitution by their own families. It’s a tragedy," explains Guterres. "One can imagine what these girls would think [for] the rest of their lives even about their families. Sexual harassment is another danger." 

The UN says more than half of the 2.2 million registered Syrian refugees are children, Lebanon has almost 400,000 child refugees, and a staggering 80 percent of them are not at school. Jordan has taken in almost 300,000 children, of which 56 percent are not at school.

So, what has been the human cost of the conflict that is now in its 30th month, and with no end in sight?

On Inside Syria, David Foster discusses with Antonio Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

"They [Syrian child refugees] are traumatised from the violence in Syria, and in Lebanon, some face sexual abuse in crowded areas where refugees stay."

 Lama Jrady, a social worker

 

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