700,000 Syrians could flee country: UN
Geneva, September 27, 2012
The number of refugees fleeing Syria could reach 700,000 by the end of the year, the UN refugee agency said on Thursday, far surpassing its previous forecast of 185,000 reached in August.
About 294,000 Syrian refugees fleeing 18 months of conflict in their homeland have already crossed into four neighbouring countries - Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey - or await registration there, it said.
"This plan provides for up to 700,000," Panos Moumtzis, regional refugee coordinator for the UN refugee agency UNHCR, told a news briefing. - Reuters
The new estimate came even as reports said at least 30,000 people have died in Syria's 18-month-old uprising.
A British-based Syrian monitoring group said more than half of the victims counted were killed in the past five months.
The uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, which began in March 2011 as peaceful protests, has descended into civil war since rebels took up arms against a security force crackdown.
Rami Abdulrahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 30,716 people were killed. Most of them - at least 21,534 - were civilians. But his network of activists, who are based around Syria, do not divide their civilian death count between unarmed residents and those who have joined the rebels.
The pro-opposition Observatory said 7,322 soldiers fighting for Assad were killed, while at least 1,860 army defectors died fighting for the opposition.