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Syrians are set to become the world’s largest refugee population, a United Nations official has warned.
In his remarks on the years-long crisis to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres stated that “as the world continues to watch Syria disintegrate in bloodshed,” the country’s refugee population is on track to exceed 4 million by the end of this year.
Afghans are now the biggest refugee population worldwide, he said.
“It breaks my heart to see this nation that for decades welcomed refugees from other countries, ripped apart and forced into exile itself,” Guterres said.
The UN estimates that the conflict has currently left 6.5 million Syrians internally displaced and forced almost 2.5 million to seek shelter in other countries.
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“Perhaps [these numbers] no longer shock, but they must,” added Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Kyung-wha Kang in her remarks to the General Assembly. “It is critical that we remember that behind each number is a family, a child whose life has been ended or devastated.”
Guterres emphasized the toll the crisis has taken, especially on children, stating, “An entire generation of young Syrians is being shaped by violence, displacement and a lack of education and opportunities.”
“The human tragedies this conflict has created are ghastly, and although refugees may have found shelter from the fighting by crossing a border, they have not escaped their trauma and psychological wounds,” he said.
“There is no military solution to this conflict,” Guterres stressed, and urged the international community to provide support to refugee-hosting countries, as well as to provide refuge and assistance for those fleeing the conflict.
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