Crisis: More than 2million Syrians have now fled the country and been forced into refugee camps like Zaatari in Jordan
Giant: The Zaatari camp has ballooned to such a huge size that it is now Jordan's fifth-biggest city
Disaster: The humanitarian crisis caused by the war is the worst since that seen in 1990s Afghanistan
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees yesterday laid bare the scale of the suffering with more than one million children forced from their country.
Antonio Guterres said: ‘Syria has become the great tragedy of this century – a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history.
‘It took two years to reach the first million refugees. It took six months for the second million to be reached. It means things are accelerating in a way that represents a dramatic humanitarian problem. The only solace is the humanity shown by the neighbouring countries in welcoming and saving the lives of so many refugees.’
An average of almost 5,000 Syrians are fleeing into neighbouring countries every day, and officials warned of the need to significantly increase humanitarian aid and development support to host communities.
Destinations: A handful of neighbouring countries have borne the brunt of the refugee influx
Leaving home: Some of the 2million Syrians who have been forced to flee their homeland thanks to the civil war
Youngsters: More than half of the 2million refugees are children less than 17 years old
At the border: A total of more than 6million people have been displaced within Syria or forced to leave the country
British money is providing support including food, medical care and relief items for more than one million people including those affected by the fighting in Syria and refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.
International Development Secretary Justine Greening said: ‘It’s shocking that there are now two million Syrian refugees. The number has doubled in the last six months alone.
‘Neighbouring countries who have accepted these refugees have shown huge generosity but also shouldered huge burdens. Britain has given its largest ever response to a humanitarian crisis.
‘The international community must follow this lead and provide the long-term support needed for host countries to cope.’
In Syria itself, UK aid has already delivered food for more than 156,000 people affected by violence and shelter and relief items for 305,000.
In neighbouring countries, British support has provided safe drinking water and sanitation to almost 100,000 people in Jordan and Lebanon and shelter and essential relief supplies for more than 84,000.
Crossing over: Refugees arriving over the weekend in Turkey, which is one of the countries hardest-hit by the influx of fleeing Syrians
Family: Many relatives have sought a new life abroad after constant fighting made it unsafe to stay in their homes
Aid: UN workers hand out supplies to Syrians who have reached the Peshkhabour border crossing between their country and Iraq
The UN said that by the end of August, two million Syrians had applied to register as refugees – including 716,000 in Lebanon, 515,000 in Jordan, 460,000 in Turkey, 168,000 in Iraq and 110,000 in Egypt. More than half – 52 per cent – of the refugees are children aged 17 or under.
Foreign Secretary William Hague wrote on Twitter: ‘One year ago: 230,000 Syrian refugees. Today: 2,000,000. 1/2 children. If we don’t end the conflict, think what the figure could be next year.’
In addition to those who have left Syria during the two-and-a-half-year war, 4.25million people have also been displaced.
David Bull, executive director of Unicef UK, warned that the humanitarian response to the situation in Syria is ‘dangerously underfunded’.
He said: ‘We urge everyone to focus now on the humanitarian aid needed to help repair the shattered childhoods of Syria’s children. We must provide them with some sense of hope and normality amidst this most awful of crises.’
Despair: A young boy sitting on the ground in a refugee camp in Iraq - which is itself suffering from a long-running civil war
Desolate: Refugees wander around between UN-provided tents at a dusty camp in Iraqi Kurdistan
Desert: Neighbouring countries have seen the vast majority of refugees leaving Syria over the past two years
Defiant: Bashar Assad has warned that if the West attacks Syria, it could ignite a regional conflict
Concerns: William Hague and Angelina Jolie have both urged the international community to act over Syria