EU alarmed by 'tragic' Syrian refugee crisis

Sept. 3, 2013 at 11:25 AM
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BRUSSELS, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- The crisis facing Syrian refugees and the neighboring countries that host them is bound to grow more severe, an EU crisis official said Tuesday.

The U.N. Refugee Agency said Tuesday the number of Syrian refugees passed the 2 million mark. It represents an increase of 1.8 million people since last year. The agency said that, with the Syrian crisis "well into its third year," the country was "hemorrhaging" refugees.

European Commissioner for Crisis Response Kristalina Georgieva said the 2 million figure was an appalling milestone.

"Tragic and cruel as it is, the truth is that with violence becoming ever more ferocious, brutal and inhumane, the tide of refugees is bound to continue to rise. And increasingly the civilian population is at the eye of the target," she said in a statement Tuesday.

Catherine Ashton -- EU foreign affairs and security policy representative -- said last week a "spiral of violence" in Syria was contributing to the refugee crisis in the region.

Georgieva said Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey were hosting most of the Syrian refugees.

"I reiterate my plea to all parties to abide by International humanitarian law and to protect civilians and those helping them to survive," she added.

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