As the conflict in Syria enters its fifth year, UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie released the following statement.

“It is deeply alarming that the international response so clearly falls short of what is needed to end the conflict in Syria.

“People are entitled to feel bewildered and angry that the UN Security Council seems unable to respond to the worst crisis of the 21st century.

“It is shameful that even the basic demand for full humanitarian access has not been met. Meanwhile, neighbouring countries and international humanitarian agencies are being stretched beyond their limits.

“And it is sickening that crimes are being committed against the Syrian people on a daily basis with impunity.

“The failure to end this crisis diminishes all of us.

“I urge governments around the world to put aside their differences and mount a new attempt to solve the conflict politically.

“And I appeal for urgent steps to demonstrate that the international community is serious about accountability in Syria: to show that we will not turn a blind eye to war crimes, and that we will not fail refugees, the displaced, and the survivors.”

With no political solution to the conflict in sight, most of the 3.9 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt see no prospect of returning home in the near future, and have scant opportunity to restart their lives in exile. Well over half of all Syrian refugees in Lebanon live in insecure dwellings – up from a third last year – posing a constant challenge to keep them safe and warm. A survey of 40,000 Syrian families in Jordan’s urban areas found that two-thirds were living below the absolute poverty line.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres reiterated that much, much more needed to be done to pull Syrians out of their nightmare of suffering. “After years in exile, refugees’ savings are long depleted and growing numbers are resorting to begging, survival sex and child labour. Middle-class families with children are barely surviving on the streets: one father said life as a refugee was like being stuck in quicksand – every time you move, you sink down further,” he said.

“This worst humanitarian crisis of our era should be galvanizing a global outcry of support, but instead help is dwindling. With humanitarian appeals systematically underfunded, there just isn’t enough aid to meet the colossal needs – nor enough development support to the hosting countries creaking under the strain of so many refugees,” Guterres added. He pointed out that with the massive influx of Syrian refugees over the past four years, Turkey had now become the world’s biggest refugee hosting country and had spent over US$ 6 billion on direct assistance to refugees.

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