The bloodshed in Syria, which is getting worse by the day, is creating an enormous refugee problem.
An estimated 200,000 Syrian refugees have crossed the borders of Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon, including more than 80,000 in Turkey alone. The United Nations refugee agency, to which the United States is the biggest donor, could soon be overmatched without more significant efforts from other nations.
As many as 5,000 people arrived on one recent day in Turkey, where five new refugee camps are planned in addition to the existing nine. The refugees include growing numbers of children who are unaccompanied by their parents.
All are fleeing President Bashar Assad's desperate, escalating efforts to hang on to power. Assad is using fighter planes and helicopters to attack his opponents and anyone else who gets in the way.
Although the opposition is getting stronger, there is no expectation that the civil war will end soon. Opposition activists said over the weekend that they found 320 bodies, including women and children, killed execution-style in a Damascus suburb.
In recent days, President Mohammed Morsi of Egypt has proposed a dialogue with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Iran on ways to stop the bloodshed. This regional initiative could give Moscow and Beijing a face-saving way to abandon their unwise support for Assad and increase pressure on him to leave power.
But it is a long shot. Indeed, it is not clear the proposal is still alive; the State Department said it has been "called off."
Meanwhile, Syria's use of fighter planes and the spillover effect of the war on the region continue to put pressure on the United States and its anti-Assad allies to establish a no-fly zone or humanitarian corridor in Syria. So far, the Obama Administration and NATO have wisely resisted direct military involvement.
Even though some Syrian activists have urged such action, it would require an international consensus to be credible and effective. In an interview, Mr. Morsi made clear that he opposes military action in Syria "in any form."
Washington must keep reassessing its role. Last week, President Obama warned Syria that it would face U.S. intervention if there were signs its chemical weapons arsenal was being prepared for use.
Britain and France have made similar statements. In the meantime, Mr. Obama's caution about becoming entangled in another Middle East war makes good sense.
-- New York Times