Syria has become a “haven” for mercenaries, drug traffickers and terrorism, the UN’s special envoy for the country said Monday. 

In his briefing to UN Security Council members, Geir Pedersen said the Syrian people have continued to suffer from violence and human rights abuses this year.

“Syria continues to radiate instability — a haven for mercenaries, drug trafficking and terrorism,” said Pederson, adding the war-torn country remains fragmented into several areas which he said are drifting apart.

He also warned that hunger and poverty have escalated as the economy has continued to implode, and 14 million people are in need, the highest number since the conflict began in 2011.

He added that “13 million Syrians remain displaced inside and outside the country – many of their children not knowing their homeland – their prospects for a safe, dignified and voluntary return not improving – and a continuing challenge for Syria’s neighbors.”

Syria has been ravaged by a civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protesters.

Over 350,000 people have been killed in 10 years of war in Syria, according to the UN, which it says is “certainly an under-count.”

According to the UN Refugee Agency, some 6.6 million Syrians have been forced to leave the country over the past decade.

Turkey alone hosts approximately 3.7 million of these people – more than any other country in the world.

*Betul Yuruk in New York contributed to this story

Copyright 2022 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.