Syria refugee numbers may hit 3 million this year: UN

(Photo: Reuters / John Kolesidis)Syrian refugee Osama (L), 35, and his wife, pose with their two children in front of a Syrian opposition flag inside their home in Athens February 7, 2013.

The number of refugees from Syria could double or triple the current level this year if the conflict doesn't end, the UN refugee chief said Sunday.

Over 1 million refugees have fled Syria to neighboring countries, according to the UN.

Speaking in Turkey, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterre said that if no political solution to the conflict in Syria is reached the number of Syrian refugees could reach two or three million by the end of 2013.

He also warned of the "risk of an explosion" across the Middle East if the civil unrest continued much longer.

"If this escalation goes on and nothing happens to solve the problem we might have in the end of the year a much larger number of refugees - twice or three times the present level," said Guterres.

The UN refugee chief also urged countries to help support Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan in sheltering refugees.

European Union foreign ministers are expected to meet Monday on political actions to end the violence in Syria.

British foreign secretary William Hague said his country is sending armored four-wheel vehicles, body armor, and other equipment to help the rebels trying to overthrow President Bashar Assad.

"It is a human catastrophe now in Syria," said Hague, according to BBC. "More than a million refugees in neighboring countries, millions of other people displaced, many tens of thousands dead."

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