Number of Syrian refugees ‘rises uncontrollably’

Humanitarian conditions are increasingly grim in this region as fighting rages in Syria and millions of civilians have fled to neighboring countries, with thousands more crossing the border every week. Additional funding is urgently needed to provide care for refugees.

By Mike Bailey and Kathryn Reid
Published July 12, 2013 at 01:15am PDT

The number of Syrian refugees will pass the 2 million mark by the end of August, putting extreme stress on people and governments struggling to take them in, warns a coalition of 18 aid agencies working in six countries directly affected by the Syrian crisis.

“The plight of Syrian refugees is on a staggering scale,” says Hugh Fenton, chair of a regional forum of international non-governmental organizations. “As the violence and bloodshed continue in Syria, the number of people fleeing the country rises uncontrollably.”

Staggering numbers — and growing

The U.N. refugee agency counts more than 1.6 million Syrians who’ve fled to neighboring countries, including Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Turkey. More than a million of them sought refuge during the first five months of 2013; thousands stream across borders every week.

“When they arrive in the host countries, refugees are bewildered and exhausted, not knowing what their future holds. A generation of Syrian children has witnessed brutal violence, women and girls have been victims of rape and abuses, and they will all continue to suffer while in exile,” Fenton says.

More than 77 percent of Syrian refugees live in urban areas, outside of official camps and easy access to relief, say aid groups. With few opportunities for employment, refugees are finding it increasingly difficult to cope. The high cost of rental accommodation is driving many into debt or into inadequate shelter that exposes their families to health risks.

Woefully inadequate humanitarian resources

Host country governments, communities, and aid agencies struggle to provide needed services, including shelter, healthcare, education, water, and sanitation.

“Refugees could be staying in host countries for months or years,” says Fenton. “It is critical that they are able to live with dignity and have livelihood options that help them to cover basic costs.”

U.N. appeals for aid to Syrians affected by the conflict have received less than a third of the $4 billion requested. However, during the G8 summit in Northern Ireland last month, President Barack Obama announced an additional $300 million to be spent for food, medical care, clean water, shelter, and other relief for Syrians in and out of their country.

Learn more

Read answers to a list of frequently asked questions about the Syrian conflict and refugee crisis, including World Vision’s response.

Check out additional videos and articles about the conflict in Syria on the World Vision magazine site.

Three ways you can help

Please pray for the children, families, and entire communities who have been devastated by the ongoing violence in Syria. Pray for those who have been forced to flee their homes and are now left without essentials for survival. Pray for peace and stability to come to this troubled region.

Make a one-time donation to help provide care for Syrian refugees. Your gift will help us deliver basics like food vouchers, cooking stoves, fuel, hygiene and sanitation in camps, and emotional support for displaced children through Child-Friendly Spaces.

Give monthly to support children affected by war and conflict. Your monthly donation will help bring assistance to those in greatest need, like trauma counseling, nutritious food, clean water, medical care, protection for children living alone, and more.


  • The rapidly-growing number of Syrian refugees has created a massive humanitarian emergency.
  • Additional funding is urgently needed to adequately meet the needs of children and families displaced by ongoing violence in Syria.

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