The number of Syrians who have fled abroad since the outbreak of civil war in their country has risen to more than 4 million, the largest number from any crisis in almost 25 years, the United Nations says. A recent wave of people leaving Syria and an update of Turkish statistics confirm the tragic milestone, according to UNHCR, the UN refugee agency. The agency said in a statement that 7.6 million additional people are displaced from their homes within Syria. The 4 million refugees are the most to flee a conflict since the Afghan civil war forced 4.6 million out of their country beginning in 1992.
"This is the biggest refugee population from a single conflict in a generation," UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said in a statement. "It is a population that needs the support of the world but is instead living in dire conditions and sinking deeper into poverty." The new figure shows that the flow of refugees is accelerating only 10 months after the agency recorded more than 3 million Syrians fleeing their country. The dire situation in the region is pushing a wave of refugees to seek escape in Western Europe, taking increasingly risky paths as European countries resist the flow. "We cannot afford to let them and the communities hosting them slide further into desperation," Guterres said. (Read more Syria stories.)