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Syria's Refugee Crisis Grows As Conflict Marks Third Year

Three years after the start of the conflict in Syria, it has become the world's leading country of forced displacement, with more than 9 million of its people uprooted from their homes.

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As of today more than two and a half million Syrians have registered as refugees in neighboring countries or are awaiting registration.

UNHCR / Via G. Gubaeva

Hundreds of Syrians cross into Iraq in August 2013 at the Peshkhabour border crossing in Dohuk Governorate.

The displacement inside Syria has now reached more than 6.5 million. The total number of people in flight internally and externally now exceeds 40% of Syria’s pre-conflict population.

UNHCR / Via J. Kohler

Syrian refugees receive plastic sheets at a distribution center in Jordan’s Za'atari refugee camp. Along with a regular supply of soap and sanitary pads, Syrian refugees receive waterproof tarps as well as socks and gloves.

In Lebanon the number of registered refugees from Syria is approaching one million.

UNHCR / Via A. McConnell

Newly arrived Syrian refugee women and children queue for registration and aid distribution in the town of Arsal, Lebanon. Thousands of Syrians have crossed the border into Lebanon in recent days after regime forces began to attack the town of Yabrud and its surrounds. UNHCR registered more than 800 families on Monday alone and has been distributing aid to thousands of new refugees.


Lebanon has the highest per-capita concentration of refugees of any country in recent history, with nearly 230 registered Syrian refugees for every 1,000 Lebanese.

UNHCR / Via A. McConnell

At sunrise, a family of 10 fled the besieged city of Yabrud, Syria. Six hours later, they crossed the border into Arsal, Lebanon, relieved to complete a terrifying journey that thousands of refugees have made in recent days. “I hope you never see what I have seen," the mother told UNHCR, reflecting on the relentlessness of the three-year war.

At least half of the displaced refugees are children.

UNHCR / Via D. Kashavelov

Refugee children from Syria sit by the fire in front of their tents in the closed container and tent camp in Harmanli, Bulgaria.

So far, less than 4% of Syrians who have fled the conflict have sought safety in Europe. This does not include Turkey, which has registered more than 625,000 Syrian refugees.

UNHCR / Via A. Akad

Alaa, 40, fled violence in Damascus with her husband and their eight children to Şanlıurfa urban-Süleymaniye in Turkey. Her husband works in a local plastic factory, earning 12 Turkish liras (around $6.50) per day, just barely supporting the family.

The U.N. and partners, along with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, facilitated the evacuation of some 1,100 civilians trapped in the besieged Old City of Homs in western Syria during a three-day humanitarian pause in February 2014.

Michael Rusch is a socials editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Rusch was selected by Time as having one of the 140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2013.

Contact Michael Rusch at

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