The United Nations warned Wednesday the number of Syrian refugees fleeing the country has hit the one million mark. Another two million have become internal refugees, the international body said, as massive bombing by government air strikes and retaliation by rebel forces slowly turns the entire country to rubble.
More than 70,000 people have died in the two years since the start of an Arab Spring-inspired uprising launched to oust President Bashar al-Assad following a brutal government crackdown on peaceful protests by demonstrators.
At least 1,600 factories in the Damascus area that produced world-class fabrics for export were destroyed last year, a Jerusalem merchant who requested anonymity told Arutz Sheva. "The cloth I sell I ordered six months ago," he said. "These bolts are the last of the shipments. The factories that produced them are no more," he said sadly.
According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, half of those who have fled the country are children, most under the age of 11 and severely traumatized by what they have been through.
“Syria is spiraling towards full-scale disaster,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres warned in a statement. “This tragedy has to be stopped.
Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt have been the destinations of choice for most of the refugees, but their conditions improved little after reaching those nations.
Few were able to get beyond the “tent cities” created for displaced persons with U.N.-donated tents, surrounded by kilometers of barbed wire in remote deserts near the borders.
Poor sanitation combined with insufficient resources made life difficult at best during a crushingly cold winter, while host countries struggled to provide medical services to a population exponentially larger than any they had anticipated.
In Jordan, King Abdullah II called on the international community to help the Hashemite Kingdom, Turkey and Lebanon shoulder the “tremendous burden” of caring for the huge flood of refugees that had crossed the borders into their countries.
On Tuesday alone, nearly 2,300 had entered Jordan, with more on the way. More than 30 wounded people were evacuated by Free Syrian Army fighters to Jordan two days ago for treatment after the border village of Al Shajara was bombed by Syrian government forces. Among the wounded, a number of children were hospitalized at the Princess Basma Medical Center in Irbid, 80 km (50 miles) north of Amman. Several border villages were shelled by the Syrian army during ongoing clashes with opposition fighters. Four died shortly after crossing the border. The rest were hospitalized with varying degrees of wounds, including some in critical condition, according to medics.
More than 400,000 people have fled the savage civil war raging in Syria since January 1 this year. The U.N. meanwhile has acknowledged its emergency plan for Syrian refugees lacks 75 percent of the necessary funding to be carried out.