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1 In 5 Syrians Have Now Fled The Country

The U.N. says 4 million Syrians have fled the horrific conflict.

Posted on July 9, 2015, at 12:02 a.m. ET

The number of Syrians that have fled the country in the face of its ongoing war has topped 4 million for the the first time, the United Nations said on Thursday.

Ivor Prickett / UNHCR

Syrian Kurdish refugees cross into Turkey from Syria near the town of Kobani.

Before the start of the conflict in 2011, Syria had a population of nearly 22 million. The number of Syrians who have taken refuge in neighboring countries — including Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey — has climbed higher and higher each year.

Ivor Prickett / UNHCR

Syrian Kurdish refugees wait in a holding area after crossing the border from Syria into Turkey.

“This is the biggest refugee population from a single conflict in a generation," U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said in a statement, stressing that refugees are currently "living in dire conditions and sinking deeper into poverty."

UNHCR/ L. Addario

Syrian refugee Mujahid, 11, helps graze sheep at the tented settlement where he and his family live in Turbide in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.

Just last week, the U.N. was forced to cut the amount of food rationed to refugees each day, due to a lack of funding. Roughly half of the 4 million refugees are children.

UNHCR / J. Kohler

Syrian refugee cousins Muhaned, 7, and Sultan, 6, in their apartment in Mafraq, Jordan.

Meanwhile, another 7 million Syrians are internally displaced — forced out of their homes, but still within Syria's borders. The ongoing fighting between the government, rebels, and ISIS makes it difficult to deliver the aid they need to survive.

Lee Keath / AP

Two displaced Syrian boys huddle under blankets for warmth at an elementary school that has been turned into a shelter in Damascus, Syria.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.