The number of refugees fleeing Syria has now reached the one million figure

Published: 6th March 2013

Oxfam reaction to news that the number of refugees fleeing Syria has now reached the one million figure:

“This landmark figure of one million refugees forced to flee fighting is an indictment of international failings to deal with the Syrian crisis. It should now spur governments and donors to redouble efforts to tackle both the refugee crisis and the conflict within the country," said Oxfam’s Syria response crisis program manager, Francis Lacasse.

“In January, donors promised more than $1.5 billion in aid. Only about 20% of this has been received, leaving agencies struggling to respond to the urgent needs of refugees who are flooding into neighboring countries as well as the millions who need help inside Syria itself.”

The UN children’s agency, UNICEF, which funds Oxfam’s emergency work in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, has said it has only received 9% of requested funds and without additional resources the agency says it will have to scale back on life-saving interventions, including water, sanitation and hygiene work and child protection.

“This money needs to be released immediately to address urgent and growing needs,” said Oxfam’s Lacasse.

While more than one million refugees have been recorded by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, the true figure is likely to be much higher, say aid workers, since many Syrians fleeing their country choose not to register with the agency.

On Friday (2 March) the UN Secretary General warned that Syria would fall apart if its government and rebels continued fighting instead of seeking a negotiated peace.

“The likelihood is that the situation will continue to worsen, yet we are not getting enough help right now to support the refugees, with some agencies saying they may have to curtail some of their life-saving work. The prediction for the coming months is extremely grim,” warned Oxfam’s Lacasse. “We are failing the people of Syria who desperately need our help at this difficult time.”

Notes to editors

  • Oxfam’s $18 million emergency appeal for the Syria crisis to help up to 120,000 people is less than 5% funded.
  • Oxfam teams are planning to assist 120,000 people in Lebanon and Jordan. People wanting to donate to Oxfam’s Syria appeal can donate online

Contact information

Caroline Gluck (Oxfam Humanitarian Press Officer): UK roaming +44 7867 976 041 / in Amman, Jordan +962 790 625217

Related links

Video: Syria's refugee crisis, Oxfam aid delivery 

Story: A difficult refuge from Syria conflict for thousands in Lebanon

Blog: Behind global humanitarian financing

More on Oxfam's response to the Crisis in Syria