More than 11,000 Syrians fled to neighboring countries in one day, making one of the largest single-day exoduses of refugees since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011.
The majority of the Syrian refugees fled to neighboring Turkey, though the United Nations reports that other nations received fleeing foreigners as well, reports The New York Times. The mass flood of refugees comes as war and suffering are on the rise inside the country, whose president appears more determined than ever to stay in power.
The UN refugee agency officials reported 9,000 refugees fled to Turkey in a 24 hour period. The flow overwhelmed and alarmed Turkish officials, leaving Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to vent bitterly about the UN Security Council’s lack of ability to respond decisively to the conflict. Erdogan stated:
“The world cannot be left to what the five permanent members have to say. If we leave it to the fire permanent members, humanity will continue to bleed.”
The latest refugee surge also saw 1,000 Syrians each who reached Lebanon and Jordan, bringing the number of registered refugees in the two countries, plus Turkey, at 408,000. These figures do not include the number of Syrians who have fled their war-torn homes without registering. That number is estimated to be in the tens of thousands in Jordan alone.
Turkish officials reported that more than half of the refugees who fled to their country came from the area near Ras al-Ain, where combat between insurgents and loyalist forces has raged for days. Among the refugees were also 26 Syrian Army defectors, including two generals and 11 colonels.
The increased exodus of Syrians also coincides with new signs of defiance from President Bashar al-Assad, who warned in an interview with Russia Today that he intends on remaining in Syria. He has also warned that any invasion by a foreign entity will have catastrophic consequences.
The Guardian notes that a senior UN official reported that as many as four million Syrians may need humanitarian aid by early next year. John Ging, director of operations at the UN office for the co-ordination of humanitarian affairs, stated:
“If the current rate of conflict continues at the current pace we can reasonably project that numbers in need to rise from 2.5 million to 4 million by the early new year.”‘
The UN Security Council has been at an impasse, because Russia and China, who are supporters of President al-Assad, have refused any vote that allowed international interference in the country. A UN peace envoy has been sent to attempt to broker a truce, but all three truce agreements have been broken immediately by both sides.
During his interview, which was released on Friday, al-Assad stated that Syria is not consumed in a civil war and that the Syrian Army could “finish everything” in the country within weeks if foreign suppliers would stop sending weapons to the insurgents, who he considers “terrorists.”
With the Syrian refugee flow increasing sharply, perhaps it is time for the UN Security Council to come to an agreement on a solution to the conflict.