Meet Bushra - the 19-year-old mother who became the millionth refugee to flee Syria

In excess of half the refugees are children who face the prospect of having their lives forever blighted by the conflict

Bushra, a 19 year-old mother of two, became the one millionth registered refugee from the Syrian civil war today as she gave here details to a UNHCR official in the Lebanese city of Tripoli.

Bushra refused to give her full name for fear of reprisal, but told reporters that she escaped the restive city of Homs several weeks ago and had since been forced to live in Tripoli, sharing a room with 20 other people.

“Our life conditions are very bad, it is very expensive here (in Lebanon) and we cannot find any work,” she said at the UNHCR centre in the city.

The dark milestone will mean little to Bushra or the others who have made the often harrowing journey to flee the bitter, bloody and seemingly endless war, which in a week’s time will be two years old. More desperate perhaps is the fact that in excess of half of the million people are children who face the prospect of having their lives forever blighted by the conflict.

More than a third of the refugees have left Syria since the start of this year, putting ever greater pressure on camps in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey. The head of the UNHCR today warned that Syria was heading towards a “full scale disaster”.

“With a million people in flight, millions more displaced internally, and thousands of people continuing to cross the border every day, Syria is spiralling towards full-scale disaster,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres. “We are doing everything we can to help, but the international humanitarian response capacity is dangerously stretched. This tragedy has to be stopped.”

Those crossing Syria’s borders – many coming from the battle-scarred cities of Homs and Aleppo - may now avoid the risk to their lives caused by bombs and bullets, but the UN has warned that funding for the over-crowded refugee camps is dangerously low. Alexis Masciarelli, Unicef’s communications officer in Jordan, said: “Initially the donor countries were very generous, but the money is beginning to dry up – it’s now a very serious problem. Our estimate at the start of the year was that there would be 300,000 new refuges by the end of June and that we would need $57m – we’ve only raised 20 per cent of that, and the 300,000 will be in the camps by the end of the month.”

As well as those escaping Syria, in excess of 70,000 people are now thought to have been killed in the fighting, which, with President Bashar al-Assad still looking secure in Damascus and the rebels controlling large areas of the country, looks set to continue for some time.

There has been increasing pressure on Western governments to intervene, but they have largely been stymied by Russia and China in attempting to find an international solution to the crisis.

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, told the House of Commons today that the West agreed that there was no case for military intervention in Syria, but admitted that the world’s efforts to try to end the bloodshed there had been “an abject failure”.

A number of Gulf nations, particularly Qatar, are thought to have provided weaponry to the rebels. The UK, and others in the West, has restricted support to medical provisions and communications equipment.

In his speech, Mr Hague announced that the UK will provide new armoured vehicles and body armour to opposition forces in Syria, which would “help save lives”. The new provisions, worth £13m, will also include medication and other “non-lethal” military and logistical equipment. The move followed a similar announcement by the US government last week, when it offered £40m worth of similar aid.

The UK was unable to “look the other way,” Mr Hague told the Commons. “The cabinet is in no doubt that this is a necessary, proportionate and lawful response to a situation of extreme humanitarian suffering, and that there is no practicable alternative,” he said.

“All our assistance will be carefully calibrated and monitored as well as legal, and will be aimed at saving life, alleviating this human catastrophe and supporting moderate groups.”

In a fresh development this evening, a group of Syrian rebels calling themselves the ‘Martyrs of Yarmouk’ – Yarmouk is the name of a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus although it is not known if the group is linked – said they had seized a convoy of United Nations observers near the Golan Heights. In a YouTube video, a spokesman for the group said that the convoy would be released only when forces loyal to -Assad withdrew from the nearby village of Jamla.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Ashdown Group: PeopleSoft Developer - London - £45k

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: PeopleSoft Application Support & Development ...

Ashdown Group: PHP Developer - Buckinghamshire - £29,000

£25000 - £29000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Junior PHP Developer - Milton Keynes...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales & Marketing Assistant

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This UK based B2C and B2B multi...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003