Over four million people have fled Syria since the outbreak of civil war almost five years ago, the United Nations said Thursday. The latest statistic from the embattled country makes it the largest global refugee crisis in a quarter-century.
On Thursday, refugee agency Unhcr announced that the total number of Syrian refugees in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey -- as well as other parts of North Africa – stood at 4,013,000 people. Meanwhile, aid agencies estimate that fighting in the country has rendered homeless at least 7.6 million people still living in the country.
This is the “biggest refugee population from a single conflict in a generation," UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres told the Associated Press, in a statement. "It is a population that needs the support of the world but is instead living in dire conditions and sinking deeper into poverty."
Turkey has borne the brunt of the human displacement from the conflict, with the country now hosting 1.8 million Syrians, giving it the largest refugee population in the world, the U.N. reported. In addition, up to 1.2 million Syrians are now sheltering in Lebanon, more than 629,000 are in Jordan and close to 250,000 have fled to Iraq, the New York Times reported. In June alone, over 24,000 refugees arrived in Turkey from Syria, fleeing fighting between the Islamic State group and Kurdish militias.
The conflict in Syria is entering its fifth year, and has seen militia groups battling forces loyal to the regime of Bashar Assad. It has also seen the Islamic State group overrun significant territories in the country. More than 220,000 people have been reported killed in Syria since anti-government protests broke out in March 2011, launching the conflict, Al-Jazeera reported.
The massive number of Syrians fleeing the war in their homeland has strained the international response to the crisis. At the end of June, U.N. aid agencies warned that a $5.5 billion appeal to tackle the Syrian refugee crisis this year was less than 25 percent funded, putting millions of vulnerable people at risk, the Guardian reported.