Syria homemade weapons
Free Syrian Army fighters prepare to fire an improvised rocket launcher towards forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in Raqqa, eastern Syria Reuters

Syria has returned "to the Dark Ages" since the civil war erupted in the country in 2011 according to former UK foreign secretary David Miliband, brother of Labour Party leader Ed Miliband.

During an interview with the Today programme, Miliband said that the international community's attempt to help solve the Syrian conflict has been inadequate and that this raises questions about its capability to respond to humanitarian crises.

"What we are seeing is the literal and metaphorical return to the Dark Ages in Syria today," he said, citing a report on the situation in Syria published on Thursday (12 February).

"The report shows that 83% of the lights are out in Syria, but metaphorically we're going back to the Dark Ages with barrel bombings of civilians by their own government, with aid workers and doctors being targeted, this is a rolling back of some of the most basic norms and laws of war."

The Syrian civil war has pitted President Bashar al-Assad supporters against rebels, causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians.

According to latest estimates, more than 191,000 people have been killed in the conflict while millions have fled their homes.

Miliband's comments come a few weeks after the UN warned that Syrians have become the largest refugee population after Palestinians as at least three million people have fled the country since the beginning of the war.

"As long as the international community continues to fail to find political solutions to existing conflicts and to prevent new ones from starting, we will continue to have to deal with the dramatic humanitarian consequences," UN high commissioner for refugees Antonio Guterres said in a statement.

The remarks were made a few weeks after Amnesty International said that only five countries in the world host 98% of all Syrian refugees.

Last December, the UN warned that nearly two million Syrian refugees were facing a food crisis after a lack of funds prompted the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) to stop delivering aid.

Philip Luther, director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme, previously said: "The world's response to the Syria crisis has been woefully inadequate. At the end of 2013 the UN humanitarian appeal, the largest in the organisation's history, was just 70% funded."