BRUSSELS: The EU's aid commissioner Kristalina Georgieva said Tuesday that the refugee exodus from Syria has reached "tragic" proportions after the UN said more than two million people, half of them children, had fled the country.
Georgieva said this "appalling milestone" represented "four times the number of citizens of Manchester or Lyon or just over the population of Warsaw" and underlined: "More than half of all those refugees are children."
She noted that the exodus had already doubled since mid-March.
"Imagine also what this sudden movement of a city-sized population means in terms of the increased pressure on resources such as education, health and security for the countries hosting the refugees," she added.
Most of those fleeing Syria are concentrated in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.
She warned that the tide of refugees is bound to rise with an end to fighting nowhere in sight.
"Until that time - and it may be further from our reach than ever before - I reiterate my plea to all parties to abide by international humanitarian law and to protect civilians and those helping them to survive".
Georgieva's office said some 30 Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers and UN workers had been killed.
Combined EU and member state funding has now topped 1.3 billion euros ($1.7 billion).