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Syrian refugee crisis spirals beyond control, UN calls emergency meeting

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 30th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Syrian refugee crisis is placing a tremendous strain on neighboring countries, with many refugees unable to receive any aid whatsoever. The UN says it only has 3 percent of the needed funds to provide aid for the rapidly growing refugee population.

AMMAN, JORDAN (Catholic Online) - Over the past two years, an estimated 700,000 people have fled Syria for neighboring countries, a staggering figure. Since January 1, the refugee population in Jordan has ballooned by 40,000 to 50,000 people. Most of the refugees are children.

While nations such as Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey have generously opened their borders, the strain placed on local populations and national governments is beginning to show. Many refugees are safe from Assad's bombs but they remain imperiled by malnutrition and the elements.

Refugees that cannot find places in overcrowded camps are now squatting wherever they can find a place. These refugees are often reduced to eating one meal a day, and living in makeshift shelters that provide minimal protection from the elements.

The desert winter is also exacerbating conditions, as many refugees do not have adequate clothing to avoid suffering from the wind and cold.

The Jordanian government has predicted the refugee population in their country will exceed one million individuals by the end of the year.

Greater numbers of people are fleeing Syria as more areas are destroyed and rendered inhospitable. Many smaller towns and villages, as well as some sections of cities are now ghost towns.

People who stay behind risk being swept up by pro-Assad militias that have a penchant for abusing, and even executing civilians.

Although rebel forces have made progress in recent months, they have stalemated over the past couple weeks, seemingly unable to make further progress. The longer the war progresses, the harder life becomes for the civilian population in Syria.

Both the government and the rebels appear close to exhaustion, but neither side is willing to stop the fighting.

Meanwhile, aid organizations are stretched to their limits. Today, representatives from more than 60 countries are meeting in Kuwait to develop a plan to provide more aid to the region, particularly to assist refugee populations. The UN-hosted meeting hopes to raise $1.5 billion to help ease the crisis.

Without increased aid, the UN expects to see the development of famine conditions as a result.

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