Syrian refugees to reach 4 million by the end of 2013
The number of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries could reach four million by the end of the year unless a political solution to the crisis in the country is found, according to the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR.
To date Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq are hosting over 1.3 million Syrian refugees.
UNHCR however says efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to the refugees was being hampered by lack of funding.
The humanitarian community has requested up to $1 billion to assist Syrian refugees but only about $300 million have been received so far.
Panos Moumtzis, from UNHCR says aid agencies were providing just the bare minimum to the refugees adding that lack of funding was likely to expose the refugees and especially women and children to exploitation as they make efforts to provide for their families.
"We feel we have reached a breaking point. So the situation is critical. We do not want to be in a situation where we would have to cut down services because as it is the services we are providing are really the bare minimum, life saving. Often the most vulnerable are women and the children that make them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse and what we are worried of is sexual exploitation of women and children being put into labour."
UNHCR says among the priorities that require urgent funding is the construction of new refugee camps in order to decongest existing camps where provision of sanitary services is falling below standards due to overcrowding.
Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio Geneva