WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees spokesman Brian Hansford spoke a week ago with UPI as the number of Syrian refugees neared the three-million mark.
The deadly and destabilizing conflict, he said, can only be solved politically. Meanwhile, UNHCR works closely with generous host countries to shelter and provide for the Syrian refugees.
"No one wants to be a refugee," Hansford says, noting that many refugees were "moving multiple times -- five, six, seven times -- inside Syria itself before crossing the border." Crossing into another country, he said, was their last resort.
TODAY: 3 million Syrians are now refugees. pic.twitter.com/5rWhiFlTNj— Dan McNorton (@DanMcNorton) August 29, 2014
More than a third of Syrian refugees are sheltering in neighboring Lebanon, which has absorbed the largest number of refugees from the three-year-old conflict. Having recently returned from working with UNHCR in Lebanon, Hansford remarked on the "incredible generosity" of the Lebanese government.
That generosity, however, comes at a price and has placed a "massive" strain on Lebanon's infrastructure, where now one out of every four people in the country is a refugee. To date, the funding requirements for 2014's Humanitarian Response Plan for Lebanon is only 35 percent funded.
"The international community needs to step up to the plate to mirror the generosity of the Lebanese," says Hansford.
On Friday, UNHCR announced that the refugee crisis, described as "the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era," has surpassed three million people.