One in five Syrians is a refugee, UN confirms

It is officially the largest movement of people in any crisis for 25 years

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The Independent Online

One in five Syrians is now a refugee.

More than 4 million people have fled Syria since the start of the civil war with an additional 7.6m displaced within the country, the United Nations has confirmed.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said a recent wave of more people leaving Syria and an update to Turkish statistics confirmed it was the largest movement of people in any crisis for the past 25 years.

Turkey has the largest number of refugees with 45 per cent or 1.8m, 2.2m have been registered across Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon and there are a further 24,055 refugees in North Africa.

There have been a further 270,000 asylum applications by Syrians in Europe.

Antonio Guterres, the High Commissioner for Refugees, said: “This is the biggest refugee population from a single conflict in a generation. It is a population that needs the support of the world but is instead living in dire conditions and sinking deeper into poverty.

"We cannot afford to let them and the communities hosting them slide further into desperation.”

The new figures shows the pace of people seeking to escape is increasing with the number spiking up by a third from 3m refugees just 10 months ago.

The UN says it appealed for $5.5bn in funding from donors to ensure it could continue to provide the humanitarian funds required but as on last month only a quarter of the money had arrived.

The brutal conflict between Isis and Kurdish forces has exacerbated the situation created by the civil war started in 2011 to depose dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Many migrants are employing increasingly desperate tactics to get to Western Europe where they will be able to claim asylum.

Last month, Italian authorities were forced to rescue 3,300 migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean on three different ships.

The UN estimated “almost 40,000” people had attempted to make the crossing between January and April this year.

Additional reporting by AP