Women and girls risk becoming the "forgotten victims" of the Syrian crisis, International Development Secretary Justine Greening has said, as the number of refugees fleeing the country reached one million.

Thousands of families are now crossing the nation's borders each day to escape the increasingly violent conflict, with neighbouring countries severely impacted by the conflict.

Around two-thirds of those caught up in the exodus are women and children, the majority of which are under the age of 11. Many arrive traumatised and without possessions.

syrian refugees jordan

Jordanian soldiers help Syrian refugees as they arrive

International donors are being called upon to deliver the humanitarian help they pledged. Without vital support Greening said, women and children could find themselves victims of long-term displacement and financial hardship. This could expose them to exploitation and abuse.

"One million refugees is a terrible landmark and the most vulnerable groups are inevitably those who find themselves at greatest risk," she said.

"Syria's neighbours cannot deal with this alone and all donors must rapidly deliver on the promises they made in Kuwait."

heaters syrian families

A volunteer hands out heaters to refugees

She spoke as the UN's refugee agency said more than 400,000 Syrians have left their homes since January, with the number registered as refugees or receiving assistance topping one million.

Syria is now "spiralling towards full-scale disaster", said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.

refugee

A general view taken on February 22, 2013 shows the Zaatari refugee camp, near the border with Syria

Most refugees have escaped to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, with Syrians increasingly fleeing to North Africa and Europe.

Ms Greening called for measures to address violence against women and girls to be systematically factored into all humanitarian work in the region.

Further efforts should be focused on protection and support for the elderly and chronically ill, she said.

syria refugee

A Syrian refugee is seen at the Taqi Al-Din school in the Dumar neighbourhood of Damascus

At least four million people are believed to be in desperate need within Syria, alongside the one million refugees who are now dependent on the generosity of host countries.

Lebanon's population has increased by as much as 10% since the crisis struck, nearly two years ago, while Jordan's energy, water, health and education services are being "strained to the limit" according to Guterres.

Turkey has spent around £4 million setting up 17 refugee camps, with more under construction, and Iraq has taken in more than one hundred thousand Syrians in the past year.

"These countries should not only be recognised for their unstinting commitment to keeping their borders open for Syrian refugees, they should be massively supported as well," Mr Guterres said.

refugee turkey

Refugees in Turkey

In December, the UN estimated some 1.1 million Syrians would arrive in neighbouring countries by the end of June.

The UNHCR refugee agency is now adjusting this plan - which is only 25% funded - in light of the new figures.

David Bull, executive director of children's charity Unicef in the UK, said the arrival of the millionth refugee across the Syrian border was a "grim milestone".

He said: "Of those million refugees, at least half are children; many of whom have suffered tragic loss and witnessed horrific violence.

"In Syria itself, a further two million children are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

"It is wrong that even one child in Syria or outside its borders is living in fear or without the basic help needed to survive and Unicef is working day and night to reach children affected and provide vital help."

The charity is assisting young refugees in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt but conceded it was "desperately short of funds" and could be forced to cut some of its relief work.

"Unless an 80% funding gap is bridged, Unicef will be forced to scale back on our life saving interventions," Mr Bull said.
He added: "As of next month, we might not have enough funds to provide children and their families in Syria with clean drinking water. Without this, many thousands of children could be exposed to serious and potentially life-threatening waterborne diseases."

Loading Slideshow...
  • Syrian families wait their turn to register at the UNHCR center in the northern city of Tripoli, Lebanon, Wednesday, March. 6, 2013. The number of Syrians who have fled their war-ravaged country and are seeking assistance has now topped the one million mark, the United Nations’ refugee agency said Wednesday warning that Syria is heading towards a "full-scale disaster." (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

  • In this Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 photo, two Syrian refugee children sit outside their family tent, at Atmeh refugee camp, in the northern Syrian province of Idlib, Syria. This rebel-controlled camp only yards from the border with Turkey houses some 16,000 people displaced by the civil war. But the U.N. and other major aid agencies best equipped to handle such a large-scale relief agency cannot reach them because they are inside Syria. That leaves the job to smaller organizations who can only provide a fraction of the needs. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

  • A Syrian refugee woman washes some clothes in front of her tent in a refugee camp near Azaz, north of Aleppo province, Syria, Monday, Feb 18, 2013. According to some Syrian activists, after the increase in air strikes, the number of displaced people in the refugee camp of Azaz has grown in the last weeks of 6000 to 9000. (AP Photo / Manu Brabo)

  • A Syrian refugee woman is seen between a line of tents in a refugee camp near Azaz, north of Aleppo province, Syria, Sunday, Feb 17, 2013. (AP Photo / Manu Brabo)

  • Syrian refugee boy carries water under the rain in a refugee camp near Azaz, north of Aleppo province, Syria, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013. (AP Photo / Manu Brabo)

  • A Syrian refugee enters his tent in a refugee camp near Azaz, north of Aleppo province, Syria, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013. (AP Photo / Manu Brabo)

  • SYRIA-CONFLICT-REFUGEES-WEATHER

    A Syrian refugee woman carries her child at a refugee camp near the northern city of Azaz on the Syria-Turkey border, on January 9, 2013. The internally displaced Syrians faced further misery due to increasing shortage of supplies as heavy rain was followed by a drop in temperatures. AFP PHOTO/ACHILLEAS ZAVALLIS (Photo credit should read ACHILLEAS ZAVALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Syrian girl sweeps water away from near her tent in a refugee camp near Azaz, north of Aleppo province, Syria, Sunday, Feb 17, 2013. (AP Photo / Manu Brabo)

  • In this on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 photo, Syrian refugee children who fled their homes with their families due to fighting between rebels and government forces, play on swings, in the southern port city of Sidon, Lebanon. According to the United Nations refugee agency, there are now more than 265,000 Syrian refugees scattered across Lebanon, straining services in health, education and housing, pushing up prices and causing friction with Lebanese, some of whom resent their presence and blame them for everything from rising crime to the country's notorious traffic. The issue is particularly sensitive given Lebanon's long and complicated history with tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees who fled to Lebanon with Israel's creation in 1948, as well as Syria's long dominance over Lebanese politics. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)

  • Newly arrived Syrian refugees wait for their turn to receive mattresses, blankets and other supplies, and to be assigned to tents, at the Zaatari Syrian refugees camp in Mafraq, near the Syrian border with Jordan, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. UN officials say a spike in Syrian refugees fleeing to Jordan in the past week has seen about 21,000 new arrivals with Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp now hosting about 83,000 registered refugees. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)

  • Syrian refugees look at remains of a burnt tent at Zaatari Syrian refugees camp, in Mafraq, near the Syrian border, Jordan, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. A refugee tent caught on fire, and the family who lives in it was evacuated by the refugees. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)

  • Syrian Refugee Children Living In The Za'atari Camp

    UNSPECIFIED, JORDAN - JANUARY 31: A Syrian man carries a newly born child in the Za’atari refugee camp on January 31, 2013 in Za'atari, Jordan. Record numbers of refugees are fleeing the violence and bombings in Syria to cross the borders to safety in northern Jordan and overwhelming the Za'atari camp. The Jordanian government are appealing for help with the influx of refugees as they struggle to cope with the sheer numbers arriving in the country. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • Thousands Of Syrian Refugees Seek Shelter In Makeshift Camps In Jordan

    ZA'ATARI, JORDAN - JANUARY 30: Syrian refugee children play in the Za’atari refugee camp on January 30, 2013 in Za'atari, Jordan. Record numbers of refugees are fleeing the violence and bombings in Syria to cross the borders to safety in northern Jordan and overwhelming the Za'atari camp. The Jordanian government are appealing for help with the influx of refugees as they struggle to cope with the sheer numbers arriving in the country. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • Thousands Of Syrian Refugees Seek Shelter In Makeshift Camps In Jordan

    ZA'ATARI, JORDAN - JANUARY 30: Syrian refugee children play in the Za’atari refugee camp on January 30, 2013 in Za'atari, Jordan. Record numbers of refugees are fleeing the violence and bombings in Syria to cross the borders to safety in northern Jordan and overwhelming the Za'atari camp. The Jordanian government are appealing for help with the influx of refugees as they struggle to cope with the sheer numbers arriving in the country. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • Thousands Of Syrian Refugees Seek Shelter In Makeshift Camps In Jordan

    ZA'ATARI, JORDAN - JANUARY 30: A woman cooks inside a makeshift kitchen as Syrian refugees go about their daily business in the Za’atari refugee camp on January 30, 2013 in Za'atari, Jordan. Record numbers of refugees are fleeing the violence and bombings in Syria to cross the borders to safety in northern Jordan and overwhelming the Za'atari camp. The Jordanian government are appealing for help with the influx of refugees as they struggle to cope with the sheer numbers arriving in the country. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • Thousands Of Syrian Refugees Seek Shelter In Makeshift Camps In Jordan

    ZA'ATARI, JORDAN - JANUARY 30: New Syrian refugees arrive at the International Organization for Migration at the Za’atari refugee camp on January 30, 2013 in Mafrq, Jordan. Record numbers of refugees are fleeing the violence and bombings in Syria to cross the borders to safety in northern Jordan and overwhelming the Za'atari camp. The Jordanian government are appealing for help with the influx of refugees as they struggle to cope with the sheer numbers arriving in the country. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • Thousands Of Syrian Refugees Seek Shelter In Makeshift Camps In Jordan

    ZA'ATARI, JORDAN - JANUARY 30: Refugees from Syria collect blankets and supplies from the UNHCR as they arrive at the Za’atari refugee camp on January 30, 2013 in Mafrq, Jordan. Record numbers of refugees are fleeing the violence and bombings in Syria to cross the borders to safety in northern Jordan and overwhelming the Za'atari camp. The Jordanian government are appealing for help with the influx of refugees as they struggle to cope with the sheer numbers arriving in the country. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • Thousands Of Syrian Refugees Seek Shelter In Makeshift Camps In Jordan

    MAFRAQ, JORDAN - JANUARY 29: A child sits next to the belongings from a tent as Syrian refugees go about their daily business in the Za’atari refugee camp on January 29, 2013 in Mafraq, Jordan. Record numbers of refugees are fleeing the violence and bombings in Syria to cross the borders to safety in northern Jordan and overwhelming the Za'atari camp. The Jordanian government are appealing for help with the influx of refugees as they struggle to cope with the sheer numbers arriving in the country. (Photo by Jeff Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • Thousands Of Syrian Refugees Seek Shelter In Makeshift Camps In Jordan

    MAFRAQ, JORDAN - JANUARY 29: Two girls drink water as Syrian refugees go about their daily business in the Za’atari refugee camp on January 29, 2013 in Mafrq, Jordan. Record numbers of refugees are fleeing the violence and bombings in Syria to cross the borders to safety in northern Jordan and overwhelming the Za'atari camp. The Jordanian government are appealing for help with the influx of refugees as they struggle to cope with the sheer numbers arriving in the country. (Photo by Jeff Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • In this Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 photo, Syrian refugees carry a bucket of water as they walk at Atmeh refugee camp, in the northern Syrian province of Idlib, Syria. This rebel-controlled camp only yards from the border with Turkey houses some 16,000 people displaced by the civil war. But the U.N. and other major aid agencies best equipped to handle such a large-scale relief agency cannot reach them because they are inside Syria. That leaves the job to smaller organizations who can only provide a fraction of the needs. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

  • In this Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 photo, a Syrian refugee rides his motorcycle with his son at Atmeh refugee camp, in the northern Syrian province of Idlib, Syria. This rebel-controlled camp only yards from the border with Turkey houses some 16,000 people displaced by the civil war. But the U.N. and other major aid agencies best equipped to handle such a large-scale relief agency cannot reach them because they are inside Syria. That leaves the job to smaller organizations who can only provide a fraction of the needs.(AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

  • Syrian refugees make their way in flooded water at a temporary refugee camp, in the eastern Lebanese Town of Al-Faour near the border with Syria, Lebanon Tuesday Jan. 8, 2013. Two Syrian refugee encampments in Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa valley were completely immersed in water Tuesday after the Litani river flooded and the water came pouring into their tents. The flood forced dozens of Syrian refugees to leave in search for alternative shelter along with their water-soaked and muddied belongings. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

  • Syrian children warm themselves at a refugee camp near the Turkish border, in Azaz, Syria, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012. Temperatures dropped to 9 degrees Celsius (48 degrees Fahrenheit) in Azaz. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)

  • A Syrian displaced child holds the picture of his father, killed by Syrian army forces, during a demonstration in a refugee camp near Atma, Idlib province, Syria, Friday, Oct. 26, 2012. A powerful car bomb exploded in Damascus and scattered fighting broke out in several areas across Syria Friday, quickly dashing any hopes that a shaky holiday cease-fire would hold for four days.(AP Photo/ Manu Brabo)

  • A displaced Syrian boy fights to get a present during a distribution of toys for Eid Al-Adha in a refugee camp near Atma, Idlib province, Syria, Friday, Oct. 26, 2012. A powerful car bomb exploded in Damascus and scattered fighting broke out in several areas across Syria Friday, quickly dashing any hopes that a shaky holiday cease-fire would hold for four days.(AP Photo/ Manu Brabo)

  • Syrian child, Amjad Al-Saleh, whose family fled their home in Marea 11 days ago, due to Syrian government shelling at their house, is comforted by his mother as he suffers from food poisoning, as they take refuge at the Bab Al-Salameh border crossing, in hopes of entering one of the refugee camps in Turkey, near the Syrian town of Azaz, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)