A Syrian refugee child eats food that her mother (R) collects from rubbish on Aug. 18, 2014, at Eminonu in Istanbul. Turkey's relief agency said on Aug. 15 it was time for the world to start "sharing the burden" of the 1.2 million Syrian refugees it is hosting, after tensions between Turks and refugees again turned violent. Hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees have fled their country's civil war to neighbouring Turkey in the past three years after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan -- now president-elect -- announced an open-door policy. Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images

Three million refugees have fled the conflict in Syria as of Friday, the United Nations said.

The New York Times reported that more than one million people have fled the country in the past 12 months alone. That figure only counts those who registered as refugees, the newspaper said. The total number is believed to be significantly higher.

The U.N.'s refugee agency said that the crisis in Syria is now "the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era," with nearly half of all Syrians forced to flee their homes.

The majority of refugees have fled to Syria's neighboring countries, with 1.14 million now seeking shelter in Lebanon, 815,000 in Turkey and 608,000 in Jordan, Reuters reported. More than 190,000 have been killed in Syria's three-year civil war, BBC News noted.

The U.N. said the conflict has also displaced more than 6.5 million others within the country's borders. More than half of all those displaced people are children.

The ordeal faced by Syrians fleeing the fighting has become considerably worse in recent months. "Most [refugee families] have been on the run for a year or more, fleeing from village to village before taking the final decision to leave," the U.N. said.

"There are worrying signs too that the journey out of Syria is becoming tougher, with many people forced to pay bribes at armed checkpoints proliferating along the borders. Refugees crossing the desert into eastern Jordan are being forced to pay smugglers hefty sums (ranging from $100 per person or more) to take them to safety.”

The conflict had its bloodiest week in late July, when 700 people were killed within 48 hours.

Syria has been racked with violent conflict since the Bashar Assad-led government cracked down on protests in the spring of 2011. Those protests then morphed into a full-scale armed rebellion.