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The New Arab & agencies

Mass exodus: More than 5 million have fled Syria

Millions have fled Syria's war [Getty]

Date of publication: 30 March, 2017

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With war ongoing at home, humanitarian appeals grossly underfunded, and states shutting their borders concern is growing as to how the needs of this displaced population will be met

More than 5 million people have fled Syria's brutal civil war into neighbouring states and Egypt, data from the UN refugee agency (UNCHR) revealed on Thursday.

The five-million mark comes a year to the day after UNHCR asked other countries - not including Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt - to begin resettling at least 10 percent of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees.

To date only 250,000 places have been offered.

"It's not about the number, it's about the people," said UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch, commenting on the mass exodus from Syria, where conflict is now entering its seventh year – longer than World War Two.

"We're trying to look for understanding, solidarity and humanity … We're asking for more legal pathways for Syrians to travel to other countries so that they don't end up dying in the seas like in the Mediterranean."

Around 1.2 million refugees of all nationalities will require resettlement in 2017, according to the UN. A massive 40 percent are Syrian. The arrival to the White House of Donald Trump – who consequently issued an executive order banning entry to all Syrian refugees – has lead to concern over where many will be resettled.

"The US has remained the largest resettlement for refugees," said Baloch speaking on Thursday.

"Our hope is the focus will come back on the suffering of these desperate people and refugees and there will be solidarity and responsibility sharing by all countries."

Elsewhere, in Europe, a total of 884,461 asylum claims have been made by Syrians between April 2011 and October 2016. Nearly two-thirds of these claims have been made in Germany and Sweden.

In addition to Syrians that have fled their homeland in the wake of conflict, over 6 million have been internally displaced within the country, according to the UN.

Hundreds of thousands more currently live in Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates which are not party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, meaning they are not registered as refugees.

A UN-led humanitarian appeal to help Syrian refugees and support host communities is currently drastically underfunded. To date it has received only 6 percent of the money needed this year - $298 million out of $4.6 billion.

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