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Syrian Refugees in Lebanon Exceed One Million

JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images(BEIRUT, Lebanon) -- The number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon passed the one million mark, the United Nations refugee agency said Thursday. With the milestone, Lebanon becomes the country with the highest per capita concentration of refugees worldwide, with the number of displaced residents equaling nearly a quarter of the nation's population.

The number continues to rise as Syria's civil war continues into its third year. More than 150,000 people are estimated to be dead. In April 2012, there were 18,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and by April 2013, there were 356,000. Each day, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees registers 2,500 new people in the country.

The influx of people is staggering, as Lebanon has no refugee camps. Instead, those who are displaced rent apartments or live in makeshift shelters, garages, factories, or prisons. Food and rent prices are rising, according to the UNHCR, and conditions remain difficult for half of Syria's refugees -- children who must work to help their families.

"The influx of a million refugees would be massive in any country. For Lebanon, a small nation beset by internal difficulties, the impact is staggering," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres. "The Lebanese people have shown striking generosity, but are struggling to cope. Lebanon hosts the highest concentration of refugees in recent history. We cannot let it shoulder this burden alone."

The World Bank estimates the crisis in Syria has cost Lebanon $2.5 billion in lost economic activity in 2013. The UN and other agencies have appealed for $1.89 billion in aid for 2014.

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