By Martin Banks - 7th November 2012
We have seen a rapid escalation of violence since the summer
EU commissioner Kristalina Georgieva says the civil war in Syria risks "spilling over" into neighbouring countries.
Speaking in parliament on Tuesday, the official said that there were currently 380,000 refugees in camps in Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon but that this is expected to soar to 700,000 by the end of this year.
"This runs the risk of the civil war spilling over into Syria's neighbours," said Georgieva, the commissioner for international cooperation, humanitarian and crisis response.
Addressing the foreign affairs committee, she said, "The crisis is moving from bad to terrible."
Her comments come as the UN and Arab League envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, has said he fears the country could "turn into a new Somalia" unless the crisis does not end soon.
Brahimi warned of a scenario in which warlords and militia filled a void left by a collapsed state.
The UK has also said it would support offering president Bashar al-Assad a safe exit if it ended the bloodshed. Prime minister David Cameron told al-Arabiya TV that the international community should consider anything "to get that man out of the country".
In Syria on Tuesday, gunmen killed the brother of the parliament speaker and there were clashes across the country. The violence came a day after more than 200 people were killed.
In her speech, Georgieva said that "21 months into the crisis" there was no political solution in sight, leaving 2.5 million inside Syria in need of humanitarian aid.
Some 1.2 million people were internally displaced in the country and 600 schools were being used as temporary homes for refugees.
She told MEPs that some 500,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria were "being dragged into the conflict" along with 100,000 Iraqi refugees.
"We have seen a rapid escalation of violence since the summer and what is particularly terrible is that the government has chosen to use is overwhelming military strength."
She said the EU was the largest aid donor in the area, providing some €250m, more than half from the commission.
Food assistance had been given to 1.5 million people inside Syria and other aid included blankets, tents and stoves.
"In the absence of a political answer such aid is the only way we can help," she conceded.
Her concern was shared by committee chair Elmar Brok, a German EPP member, who said the EU had an "obligation" to provide support while French deputy Eva Jolly said there was a "real risk" of Syria's neighbours becoming "destabilised".