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United Nations says Syrian refugees could climb to four million in 2013

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 9th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The situation for millions of Syrians caught up in the civil war there are increasingly falling victim to the crossfire of rebels and government forces. According to the United Nations, if the conflict in Syria continues at its current pace the number of people requiring humanitarian assistance could rise as high as 1.5 million by 2013.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic online) - Operations Director for the U.N. Humanitarian Office John Ging has said that the number of Syrians in need of some form of humanitarian aid could increase from 2.5 million to four million by early 2013.

"People need to be aware of just how desperate the situation is inside Syria for the people there, how unbearable it is, and how they are suffering and falling into ever deeper despair and humanitarian need ... It's just getting a lot worse very rapidly for the ordinary people", Ging said.

U.N. projections saw the number of Syrian refugees in neighboring countries reaching 700,000, up from the current estimated 400,000 in early 2013.

Of the 2.5 million Syrians in need of humanitarian aid, the United Nations and other organizations were only able to reach 1.5 million. Funding was cited as one reason for the shortfall.

Programs for Syrian refugees in camps in neighboring countries, including Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, are also seriously underfunded. Donations have so far provided only 50 percent of the amount needed, Ging says.

In the meantime, Syrian opposition figures are meeting in the Qatari capital of Doha to forge a broad-based leadership group sought by the international community.

Prominent dissident Riad Seif says he has proposed a Western-backed initiative to unite the opposition and form a transitional government and that he was "optimistic" an agreement could be reached.

The opposition is moving towards creating "a political leadership that would satisfy the Syrians and be recognized by the international community," Seif said.

Prime Minister of Qatar Hamad Bin Jassim Al Thani has urged Assad's opponents to "unify their ranks and positions and to prioritize the interests of their nation and people over their own personal interests."

However -- both the United Nations and human rights groups say both pro-government and anti-Assad fighters are guilty of war crimes.

In the meantime, the defiant Syrian President Bashar al-Assad pledged he would "live in Syria and die in Syria.

"I am not a puppet. I was not made by the West to go to the West or to any other country," Assad said in English in an interview with Russia's RT television.

"I am Syrian, I was made in Syria, I have to live in Syria and die in Syria," he said, according to transcripts posted on a Web site.

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