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The Number of Syrian Refugees Has Reached 5M, UN Reports

Flickr: UK Department for International Development

The number of Syrians fleeing violence in their home country officially reached the 5 million mark the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) announced Thursday in Geneva. 

After dragging on for six years, the Syrian civil war has displaced more people than any war since WWII, and is sadly on track to rival WWII in length too. 

In addition to the 5 million who have left Syria, another 6.3 million are internally displaced according to UNHCR. 

The global refugee agency is urging countries who pledged last year at a conference in Geneva to resettle 500,000 Syrian refugees by 2018 to keep their promise. But so far, space has only been made for 250,000 refugees. 

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Baloch called out European countries, reminding them not to shun refugees. 

“Europe went through this during the second world war and there were many countries which supported Europe. Syria is currently going through this trauma and it now needs the world’s support. We should not be turning our backs on people in need,” said Babar Baloch, UNHCR spokesman. 

The refugee agency believes political reasons are behind more countries turning away refugees. They are concerned about the upcoming elections in Germany and France, and with good reason, after elections in the US and UK resulted in new administrations less willing to accept refugees. 

“The solution to the crisis in Syria is political, but in terms of support it is humanity that is needed,” said Baloch. 

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“We are asking other countries to come forward and help those countries neighbouring Syria that are hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees, to share responsibility for resettlement and humanitarian admissions. Those desperate refugees are in need of resettlement,” he said.  

The news came as a surprise as the agency was updating numbers on registered and pre-registered Syrian refugees. 

“We haven’t identified the five millionth refugee, it is more about getting the data from the registration authorities and incorporating that into the data,” said Baloch.

The new data showed that countries neighboring Syria are still doing their part welcoming refugees. In February, Turkey accepted 47,000 Syrians, bringing the country’s total to 3 million. 

Last year, the US agreed to accept a record number of 64,000 refugees. But the Trump administration plans to reduce this number.

The number of refugees is rising at a lower rate than past years, says UNHCR, but the need for quick resettlement and a solution to conflict is more urgent than ever. 

“Peace is essential, but for that we need global responsibility and solidarity shared,” said Baloch.