Syrian Refugees in Lebanon Surpass One Million Mark, UN Says

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A Syrian child stands in the snow in a refugee camp in the town of Arsal in the Lebanese Bekaa valley on December 13, 2013. Credit: AFP

The number of Syrians registered as refugees in Lebanon has surpassed one million, making the country the highest per-capita concentration of refugees worldwide, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Thursday.

"The influx of a million refugees would be massive in any country. For Lebanon, a small nation beset by internal difficulties, the impact is staggering," UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres said in a statement.

Refugees from Syria, half of them children, now equal a quarter of Lebanon's resident population (about 4 million), most of them live in dire conditions and depend on aid for survival, according to the agency.

"The Lebanese people have shown striking generosity, but are struggling to cope. Lebanon hosts the highest concentration of refugees in recent history," Guterres said.

He appealed to the world community to increase support for Lebanon.

"The number of school-aged children is now over 400,000, eclipsing the number of Lebanese children in public schools. These schools have opened their doors to over 100,000 refugees, yet the ability to accept more is severely limited."

Lebanon's Social Affairs Minister Rachid Berbas said: "As we announce the registration of the one millionth refugee in Lebanon, we send both the Arab and international communities one million pleas for support."

UNHCR has said that of those who have fled Syria's war, nearly 600,000 have registered as refugees in Jordan and around 670,000 in Turkey.

More than 150,000 people have been killed in Syria's conflict, which erupted in March 2011, according to the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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