After almost two years of war, Syria is facing a severe humanitarian crisis, and the United Nations has launched the biggest aid appeal in its history to try to help.
According to UN estimates, a total of 4 million people in Syria (about a quarter of the country's population) may need food, shelter, medical attention, hygiene materials, clothes and other relief by next summer. The body is trying to raise $520 million to cater to the needs of the displaced.
Another $1 billion will be needed to meet the needs of the 525,000 refugees who have left Syria for neighbouring states, and those who are about to leave, the UN says. The body expects more than a million people to flee the country in the next six months.
Canadian aid groups have asked people in this country to respond generously. They point to the additional threat of a frigid winter in countries like Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and even northern Iraq.
Many refugees, and especially children, don't have enough warm clothing for the coming months of cold.
"Violence in Syria is raging across the country and there are nearly no more safe areas where people can flee and find safety," said Radhouane Nouice, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Syria. "The magnitude of this humanitarian crisis is indisputable."
Fighting between government and rebel forces has decimated Aleppo, Homs and parts of Damascus, and between 2,000 and 3,000 refugees are crossing into Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq each day, the UN says.
Today, one of the UN's outreach groups announced that 100,000 Palestinians have fled a large refugee camp in Damascus due to government airstrikes and fighting there. The refugees at the camp are "not fighting in the war," according to camp spokesman Abu Mohammed.
"The camp was supposed to be a safe haven," Mohammed told CNN. "This was created as a safe zone for refugees. No one can find anywhere else to go."
The numbers of people on the move "dwarf any refugee crisis in recent memory," according to the Guardian.
As for the armed conflict, a UN report released today found that the fighting is getting increasingly sectarian, with majority Sunni rebels pitted against government forces supported by Syria's religious and ethnic minorities.
The report also found that most of the 40,000 people that activists say have died on both sides are civilians.
Part of the reason for high civilian casualties, the report found, is that anti-government rebels hiding in cities are "failing to distinguish themselves" from the rest of the population, triggering strikes by government artillery and the air force.
One bleak conclusion from Sergio Pinheiro, the head of the independent commission that penned the report, is that the war may not end with either side winning.
"We think this is a war where no military victory is possible," Pinheiro said. "It is a great illusion that providing arms to one side or the other will help end it."