GENEVA, March 6 (Xinhua) -- The number of Syrians either registered as refugees or being assisted as such has reached one million, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) announced Wednesday.
The number of Syrian refugees has increased dramatically since the beginning of the year with more than 400,000 becoming refugees since Jan. 1 this year. Around half of them are children, the majority under the age of 11, said the UNHCR in a statement.
"With a million people in flight, millions more displaced internally, and thousands of people continuing to cross the border every day, Syria is spiraling towards full-scale disaster," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.
Most of the refugees have fled to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. Increasingly, Syrians are also fleeing to North Africa and Europe, the UNHCR said.
Guterres noted that the impact of this large number of refugees arriving in neighboring countries is severe and said that these countries should be "massively supported."
The UN launched the fourth edition of the Regional Response Plan for Syrian Refugees, a joint effort of 55 humanitarian organizations led by UNHCR. It appealed for 1 billion U.S. dollars of aid for an estimated 1.1 million Syrian refugees by the end of June 2013.
The plan is only approximately 25 percent funded, said the agency. UNHCR is in the process of adjusting this plan accordingly in light of the new figures.
Guterres said that without a political solution to the nearly two-year crisis, "at a minimum, humanitarian actors should receive the funds needed to save lives and ease suffering."
He will be travelling to the region later this week to visit UNHCR operations in Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon.
DAMASCUS, March 6 (Xinhua) -- Syria's Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said Wednesday that the rebels' existence in the northeastern city of al-Raqqa "is a matter of time only."
The minister's remarks were carried by the state-run SANA news agency, in which he apparently tried to allay fears about the rebels' presence in al-Raqqa after the rebels backed by the Nusra Front, an offshoot of al-Qaida, stormed the city a couple of days ago. Full story
DAMASCUS, March 5 (Xinhua) -- Syrian troops on Tuesday targeted positions of armed rebels in the northeastern city of al-Raqqa after the rebels stormed the city a day earlier, local media said.
The Syrian army targeted the positions of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front in al-Raqqa, the state-TV said, adding that the armed militias have attacked public and private properties in the city. Full story