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Oxfam reacts as the number of refugees fleeing Syria reaches one million

By Oxfam

Today, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) announced that one million people have fled Syria since the start of the civil war two years ago. That’s one million homeless Syrians seeking safety and security in neighboring countries with dwindling resources to support them.

“This landmark figure of one million refugees forced to flee fighting is an indictment of international failings to deal with the Syrian crisis. It should now spur governments and donors to redouble efforts to tackle both the refugee crisis and the conflict within the country," said Oxfam’s Syria response crisis program manager, Francis Lacasse.

“In January, donors promised more than $1.5 billion in aid. Only about 20 percent of this has been received, leaving aid organizations struggling to respond to the urgent needs of refugees who are flooding into neighboring countries as well as the millions who need help inside Syria.”

The UN children’s agency, UNICEF, which funds Oxfam’s emergency work in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, has said it has only received 9 percent of requested funds and, without additional resources, the agency says it will have to scale back on life-saving interventions, including water, sanitation and hygiene work, and child protection.

“This money needs to be released immediately to address urgent and growing needs,” said Lacasse.

While more than one million refugees have been recorded by UNHCR, the true figure is likely to be much higher, say aid workers, since many Syrians fleeing their country choose not to register with the agency.

On Friday (March 2) the UN Secretary General warned that Syria would fall apart if its government and rebels continued fighting instead of seeking a negotiated peace.

“The likelihood is that the situation will continue to worsen, yet we are not getting enough help right now to support the refugees, with some organizations saying they may have to curtail some of their life-saving work. The prediction for the coming months is grim,” said Lacasse.

Oxfam teams are planning to assist 120,000 people in Lebanon and Jordan. Click here to support Oxfam’s Syria appeal.

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