UNITED NATIONS - The number of people fleeing the conflict in
Syria has escalated to an average of 6,000 a day during 2013 - a rate not seen
since the genocide in Rwanda nearly two decades ago, UN High Commissioner for
Refugees Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday.
Guterres said two-thirds of
the nearly 1.8 million refugees registered with the United Nations in Lebanon,
Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and elsewhere had left Syria since the beginning of
"We have not seen a refugee outflow escalate at such a
frightening rate since the Rwandan genocide almost 20 years ago," Guterres told
a rare public briefing to the UN Security Council on Syria, where a government
crackdown on pro-democracy protests more than two years ago has spiraled into
Thousands of people fled Rwanda after the 1994 genocide in
which 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.
Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic told the Security
Council that between March 2011 and the end of April 2013 at least 92,901 people
were killed in Syria of which more than 6,500 were children.
Council has been deadlocked on Syria. Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and China have three times blocked action against Assad that was
backed by the remaining veto powers - the United States, Britain and
Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari said the Syrian
government was doing "everything possible to shoulder its responsibility and its
duty to its people, to meet the humanitarian needs and the basic needs of its
citizens." UN aid chief Valerie Amos said the world was "not only watching the
destruction of a country but also of its people."
"The security, economic,
political, social, development and humanitarian consequences of this crisis are
extremely grave and its human impact immeasurable in terms of the long term
trauma and emotional impact on this and future generations of Syrians," Amos
told the council.
She said 6.8 million Syrians need urgent humanitarian
assistance, including more than 4.2 million internally displaced, and that
almost half of those needing help were children. The latest assessment by the
World Food Program was that 4 million people can no longer meet their basic
Amos said another $3.1 billion was needed to help people in
Syria and neighboring countries for the rest of the year.
There are more
than 600,000 refugees registered in Lebanon, 160,000 in Iraq, 90,000 in Egypt
and 1 million in Turkey and Jordan, said Guterres, who described the impact as
"crushing." Lebanon's UN Ambassador Nawaf Salam said his country's borders
would remain open to Syrian refugees, even though the conflict was threatening
Lebanese security and stability. He said the Lebanese General Security
Directorate puts the number of Syrians in Lebanon at 1.2 million.
as if your country, the United States of America, were going to have an influx
of over 75 million refugees, or over twice the population of Canada," Salam said
to U.S. Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo, the council president for
"Could you imagine the impacts of an influx of such magnitude on
your own country?" he asked.