UN warns Syrian refugee crisis could destabilize region

The spiraling refugee crisis from Syria's civil war could pose a serious threat to Lebanon's security and destabilize the entire region unless donors quickly provide the unfunded 70 percent of the $3.74 billion needed for emergency needs, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said Thursday.

The estimate of how much money will be needed is based on an upwardly revised assessment that Guterres plans to formally present on Friday. It includes a new estimate there will be at least 3.6 million Syrian refugees in the region by the end of the year.

There are now 2.9 million Syrian refugees registered in the region, with 100,000 more added each month.

So far, donors have contributed $1.1 billion toward efforts in neighboring Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.

"Failing to provide enough humanitarian support for Syrian refugees by the end of 2014 could result in dramatic consequences for refugees and the stability of the entire region, including a serious security threat to Lebanon," Guterres said.

"We have a situation of heightened volatility in the region, a spillover of the conflict into Iraq, and continued outflows of refugees into neighboring countries grappling with very complex security and humanitarian issues," he said.

Without more money, Guterres warned there will be increased numbers of women and children at risk of violence, exploitation and abuse, and reduced food rations and increased acute malnutrition rates.

He said education would suffer with continued overcrowding at schools that now have 350,000 Syrian children enrolled in the region, and health services would be inadequate, particularly for pregnant women.

The agency estimates some 2.4 million people will need extra support to prepare for winter, and more help will be needed for 860,000 refugees now living outside of camps in sub-standard shelter.