With every week that goes by in the Syria crisis, hundreds more lives are lost, policy options narrow and the chances of post-conflict stability grow worse. What started as a demand for internal reform has become a regional conflagration.
Inside Syria, the International Rescue Committee has talked with refugees who reported that life-threatening shortages of medicines and food and fuel shortages are a daily reality. There are allegations of truly horrific human rights abuse.
Nearly seven million Syrians are living in desperate conditions. In addition to nearly 100,000 killed inside Syria (and countless more dying for lack of medical help), close to a third of the Syrian population has been displaced within the country or beyond.
The strain on communities hosting refugees is tangible. There are refugee camps in Jordan, Iraq and Turkey, but across the region the large majority of refugees are fending for themselves in urban areas.
This humanitarian toll is now as much a part of the geopolitics as the balance of military power. The scale of killing has created sectarian reprisals, not just in Syria but in Lebanon and Iraq. Meanwhile, the extent of refugee flows is itself a source of destabilization. And under any scenario, there are many more refugees to come — not least the 250,000 to 300,000 Syrians living up against the Jordanian border.
[Excerpt of report by David Miliband, a former foreign secretary of Britain.]