UN refugee chief warns of "terrifying" humanitarian situation for Syria

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A young Syrian refugee at a reception centre after crossing into Jordan with his family. (© UNHCR/J.Kohler)

The head of the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), Antonio Guterres, has warned the Security Council of what he called a "terrifying" humanitarian situation for Syria.

Mr. Guterres, who addressed the Council by video-link on Thursday, said that 400,000 refugees have fled Syria in the last seven weeks, bringing the number of Syrians registered as refugees or waiting to be registered to over 1.3 million.

He said UNHCR, together with its 60 partner organizations and host states, is preparing its regional response to assist the ever growing number of refugees.

Mr. Guterres told the Security Council that the UN humanitarian agency is updating its plans to help people inside Syria.

"This process is still ongoing but the preliminary planning figures are terrifying. If nothing changes at the present rhythm there may be up to 3.5 million Syrian refugees by the end this year and probably up to 6.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance inside the country. This is not just frightening, it risks becoming simply unsustainable. There is no way to adequately respond to the enormous humanitarian needs these figures represent."

Mr. Guterres said humanitarian funding needs have become so urgent that governments would need to look at extraordinary funding mechanisms to avoid the international response capacity becoming overwhelmed.

Gerry Adams, United Nations

Duration: 1'36"

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