One million Syrians have fled their homeland since a revolt erupted two years ago, the UN said yesterday, as fighting between rebels and loyalists raged across central and northern battlefields.
"With a million people in flight, millions more displaced internally, and thousands of people continuing to cross the border every day, Syria is spiralling towards full-scale disaster," UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said in a statement issued in Geneva.
"We are doing everything we can to help, but the international humanitarian response capacity is dangerously stretched. This tragedy has to be stopped."
Only a year ago, the UN agency had only registered 33,000 refugees. The exodus has intensified this year, the UNHCR said, with 400,000 Syrians fleeing their country since January 1.
The refugees have fled primarily to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, but increasingly they are trying to reach North Africa and Europe, the UNHCR said.
The new fighting came after at least 159 people were killed in violence nationwide on Tuesday, among them 70 rebels, 47 civilians and 42 soldiers, according to the Observatory's figures.
The United Nations says in all at least 70,000 people have been killed since the start of the uprising.