Close to Two Million Syrians Now Either Internally Displaced or Refugees

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Irish Aid Minister Joe Costello posted this photo on Twitter of his visit Monday to the Zaatari camp in Jordan hosting Syrian refugees. More than 2,000 people, mostly women and children, are arriving daily since late last week. (credit: Dept. of Foreign Affairs, Ireland)

Aug. 27, 2013 – The number of displaced Syrians is closing in on the two million mark, about 10 percent of the country’s population, creating the biggest refugee crisis in the Middle East since the invasion of Iraq.

The scale of displacement has increased dramatically since March – after the battle of Homs – and even more so since last month, when the International Committee of the Red Cross declared the situation inside Syria a civil war.

Latest figures from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent show 1.5 million are displaced within the country (see map) while the U.N. has registered some 200,000 refugees in neighboring countries (79,000 in Turkey; 45,000 in Jordan; 40,000 in Lebanon; and 16,000 in Iraq).

Thirty-nine percent of the refugees are aged 11 and under.

The figures for internally displaced are estimates and were released before the battle in Aleppo, the escalation of the conflict in Damascus, and the massacre in Daraya last week.

The U.N. Security Council is holding a ministerial meeting on the humanitarian situation in Syria on Aug 30 and Turkish FM Ahmet Davutoglu, who is attending, said it may be time for the United Nations to create a “safe zone” inside Syria.

There’s little chance of China and Russia supporting such a move with both likely to declare that it amounts to intervention.

Denis Fitzgerald