The number of people fleeing Syria due to the civil war that broke out in March 2011 stands at more than 2 million, the U.N. Refugee Agency said Tuesday, acknowledging plans to deal with a possible surge in refugees as Washington mulls military strikes to punish the Assad regime for the alleged use of chemical weapons.
But the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, declined to directly address the issue of potential U.S. intervention.
"We have a contingency plan for an increase in refugees, whatever the cause," he told reporters at a press conference in Geneva. "We all need to be prepared for things to get worse before they get better."
More than half of the registered refugees sheltering in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey are children 17 and under, according to the U.N. agency.
Syria, a nation of around 20 million people, also has 4.25 million internal refugees.
The strife-torn Arab country represents "a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history," Guterres said.
"What is appalling is that the first million fled Syria in two years. The second million fled Syria in six months," the high commissioner said.
The war itself has claimed around 100,000 lives. EFE