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UNHCR: Syrian war unleashed worst humanitarian crisis of our time

The war in Syria has unleashed the “worst humanitarian crisis of our time”, posed a terrible threat to regional and global peace and security, and risks an explosion that could engulf the entire Middle East, a senior UN official warned yesterday.

In his testimony before the UN Security Council, Antonio Guterres said: “In 2013, I said the Syrian war had unleashed the worst humanitarian crisis of our times and posed a terrible threat to regional and global peace and security – risking an explosion that could engulf the entire Middle East. Today, we must face the fact that this is exactly what happened.”

100,000 Syrian children have been born in refugee camps

“As the level of despair rises, and the available protection space shrinks, we are approaching a dangerous turning point,” he warned

According to the senior UN official, nearly two million Syrian refugees are under the age of 18 and have become a “lost generation” while as many as 100,000 children were born in refugee camps outside their country which means, according to Syrian law, that they will be unable to obtain Syrian citizenship.

Guterres warned of the risk of the deteriorating conditions faced by Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries, pointing out that more than half of Syrian refugees who fled to Lebanon are living in an unsafe environment, while 40,000 Syrian families in Jordan live below the poverty line.

The UN official said that 2014 was the worst year for refugees warning of the consequences of a conflict spillover to neighbouring countries.

He welcomed a decision by the Turkish authorities issued last year which grants Syrian refugees protection and access to the labour market and free health and education services, while warning that host communities were severely overstretched and faced growing security risks due to the regional spread of the conflict.

Guterres warned that as many as 20,000 foreign fighters from over 50 countries had travelled to Syria and Iraq since 2011, with their number nearly doubling during the course of last year.

Jordan’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Dina Kawar said that her country has reached the stage of exhaustion as a result of the massive flow of Syrian refugees fleeing the ongoing conflict in Syria.

In her statement, Kawar said that Jordan currently hosts more than 1.5 million Syrians. She called on the international community to assume its responsibilities in supporting and assisting Jordan and host countries to enable them to continue to play their humanitarian role.

The Jordanian ambassador confirmed that “there is no military solution to the crisis in Syria, but a political solution which saves lives and achieves the political transition in line with the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.”

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