Syrian refugee population rises above 4 million, U.N. says

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"This is the biggest refugee population from a single conflict in a generation," U.N. official says

At least 7.6 million Syrians have also been displaced inside the country

CNN  — 

More than 4 million Syrians have fled the violence in their homeland to seek refuge in neighboring countries, the United Nations said Thursday.

The grim numbers make Syria’s lengthy civil war the worst crisis that the U.N. refugee agency has had to deal with in nearly 25 years, the organization said.

“This is the biggest refugee population from a single conflict in a generation,” said Antonio Guterres, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees. “It is a population that deserves the support of the world but is instead living in dire conditions and sinking deeper into abject poverty.”

At least 7.6 million other people have displaced inside Syria, the U.N. refugee agency said. That means more than half of all Syrians have been driven from their homes by the war, which has killed well over 200,000 people.

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More and more heading for Europe

Turkey is hosting the highest number of Syrian refugees at more than 1.8 million, followed by Lebanon with 1.17 million, and Jordan with 629,000.

Some are traveling farther in search of refuge.

“Worsening conditions are driving growing numbers towards Europe and further afield, but the overwhelming majority remain in the region,” Guterres said.

The U.N. agency said the total refugee number of over 4 million doesn’t include more than 270,000 asylum applications by Syrians in Europe.

The Syrian refugee population is the highest on record since the number of people who fled Afghanistan reached 4.6 million in 1992, according to the United Nations.

Families struggle to survive in Syria’s civil war