Without Diplomacy, Million More Will Flee War Torn Syria by Year's End, UN Warns
Warning comes as German government has reportedly erected emergency border controls, breaching EU open borders agreement
A senior United Nations official is warning that unless a diplomatic solution comes—and comes soon—another million Syrians will likely flee their war-torn nation by the end of the year.
"There are a million people displaced this year and the projection is another million will be displaced inside Syria between now and the end of the year if the violence continues to escalate," Yacoub el-Hillo, the humanitarian coordinator in Syria, told reporters on the phone from Damascus.
"Unless something big is done to resolve this conflict through political means, the human train that has started moving out of Syria and the neighbourhood will continue to be running for many months to come," he added.
Over 3 million have fled to Syria's immediate neighbours Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, which Hill notes has pushed these countries to a "breaking point."
While a number of Western nations have pushed for a military response to the crisis in Syria, Hillo, instead, said the intensification of fighting—particularly in Aleppo and Deraa—would only increase the flow of refugees. "We still have the opportunity to invest and help many Syrians stay in Syria. Otherwise this human train will continue running in all directions, including Europe," Hillo said.
The warning came as news of another tragedy at sea surfaced, with reports that 28 people, half of them children, drowned when their boat capsized before dawn Sunday off the Greek island of Farmakonissi.
Meanwhile, the influx of migrants continues as European leaders are scrambling to either house, or turn their backs on, thousands of people seeking sanctuary.
The German government is seeking to reintroduce border controls in response to the refugee crisis, German newspaper Bild citing Germany security sources reported Sunday. According to the sources, the federal police would send 2,100 officers to Bavaria to help it temporarily secure its border with Austria—a move that would breach the European Union’s open-borders Schengen agreement.
The country has also reportedly stopped trains coming from Austria in an attempt to stem the flow of people.
An estimated 13,000 refugees arrived in Munich on Saturday and by Sunday afternoon another 3,000 had arrived, the Associated Press reports.
Also Sunday, the Hungarian army continued its deployment along the country's border with Serbia.
Many of the refugees who are escaping the conflict in Syria have crossed the Mediterranean into southern Europe, transiting through Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and then Hungary, with the goal of reaching Germany.
More than 4,000 people walked across Hungary's border with Serbia on Saturday, as crews worked to seal the frontier.
They're rushing into Hungary before new emergency migrant laws take effect on Tuesday, making it illegal to enter the country without a visa.
European Union ministers are holding an emergency meeting in Brussels on Monday to discuss the dispersal of migrants, including a proposed quota system.
On Saturday, tens of thousands of Europeans marched in an international day of solidarity to welcome the refugees.
According to the International Organization of Migrants, more than 430,000 people had crossed the Mediterranean to Europe so far this year, with 2,748 dying or going missing en route.