"The ongoing conflict that began in March 2011 in Syria has created one of the most pressing humanitarian crises in the world. Three years later, as of early March 2014, an estimated 9.3 million people inside Syria, nearly half the population, have been affected by the conflict. It is estimated that there are 6.5 million displaced persons inside Syria and 2.5 million Syrians displaced as refugees, with 97% fleeing to countries in the immediate surrounding region, including Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, and other parts of North Africa. The situation is fluid and continues to worsen, while humanitarian needs are immense and increase daily. While internationally supervised disarmament of chemical weapons in Syria is proceeding, albeit with some difficulty, U.S. and international diplomatic efforts to negotiate a political end to the fighting in Syria opened on January 22, 2014, in Montreux, Switzerland. The 'Geneva II' talks include some members of the Syrian opposition, representatives of the Syrian government, and other government leaders. The first round of talks came to an end on January 31 and resumed February 10-15, but ended with little progress in efforts to end the civil war. The parties reportedly agreed to an agenda for a third round of talks. Many experts and observers hoped that a lasting agreement would have been reached on 'humanitarian pauses' to allow access and relief to thousands of civilians blockaded in towns and cities in Syria. On February 22, the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2139 (2014) to increase humanitarian access and aid delivery in Syria."
CRS Report for Congress, R43119