Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

World Refugee Day: UN Calls Syria 'Worst Humanitarian Disaster' since Cold War

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

World Refugee Day: UN Calls Syria 'Worst Humanitarian Disaster' since Cold War

Article excerpt

Syria's grinding civil war has so far produced 1.6 million refugees and millions more internally displaced children and adults - the reason the global refugee and internal displacement numbers are at their highest since the mid-1990s.

Not since 1994, when wars raged in the Balkans and Rwanda, has the world seen the likes of the 45 million refugees, displaced persons, and asylum seekers estimated at the end of 2012 by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

And the Syria conflict shows signs of making 2013 another record year. Syria's war "is more brutal and destructive than the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and has turned into the worst humanitarian disaster since the end of the cold war," said Antonio Guterres, the UN's high commissioner for refugees, in marking World Refugee Day Thursday.

At the current rate of flight from Syria - which has accelerated in the initial months of 2013 - about 5 million Syrians, or a quarter of the population, could have fled to neighboring countries by the end of the year.

More than half of Syria's refugees and internally displaced are children, Save the Children says in a new report released Thursday.

The UN's Mr. Guterres spent World Refugee Day in Jordan to bring attention to both the plight of Syria's refugees and the challenges they pose to the countries that take them in. Jordan is now home to more than a half-million Syrians.

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Also in Jordan to mark the day was Angelina Jolie, who is a special envoy for UNHCR. At a press conference at the Zaatari refugee camp -with a population of 185,000, the size of a small city - the actress noted that Syrian refugees like those at Zaatari left their homes "with nothing but the clothes on their back." But she added that they left behind "a country in which millions of people are displaced, suffering hunger, deprivation, and fear. …

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