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Syrian needs extend beyond politics

GENEVA, Switzerland, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- The estimated 2.1 million refugees in Syria need help that can't be found in a political solution to the crisis, a European Union official said.

Threats of a possible Western military intervention in Syria were averted by a U.N. Security Council resolution mandating the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal by mid-2014.

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A U.N. report in September found the chemical nerve agent sarin was used in an attack on a suburb of Damascus.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said the situation in Syria was spiraling out of control. Kristalina Georgieva, the European commissioner for crisis response, said Monday the number of refugees in Syria has increased from 270,000 a year ago to more than 2.1 million.

"Even if a political solution to this conflict can be found, it will take years for the deep wounds that have been opened to heal," she said in a statement from Geneva. "This is a protracted crisis."

She said about 40 percent of the $2.7 billion in European assistance to Syria went toward food, shelter and medicine inside the country.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem told the U.N. General Assembly during an open debate Monday it was calling on "those who support a political solution" to the crisis to head to Geneva for talks "without preconditions."

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