Some 700,000 may flee Syria - UN


The number of refugees fleeing Syria could reach 700,000 by the end of the year, the UN refugee agency said today, almost four times its previous forecast.

About 294,000 refugees fleeing 18 months of conflict in Syria have crossed into four neighbouring countries - Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey - or await registration there, it said.

"This is a significant outflow taking place, 100,000 people in August, 60,000 in September and at the moment 2,000 or 3,000 per day or night," Panos Moumtzis, regional refugee coordinator for the UN refugee agency UNHCR, told a news briefing.

About 5,000-6,000 Syrians have reached other parts of north Africa, mainly Egypt, while other refugees are turning up in southern Europe, including Cyprus and Greece, he said.

The previous forecast of 185,000 refugees was surpassed in August.

UN aid agencies and humanitarian partners issued a funding appeal of $487.9 million to help meet the needs of the rapidly growing outflow from Syria.