Damascus (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The United Nations refugee agency said that more than 200,000 Syrian refugees have fled to neighbouring countries as the conflict intensified, this according to Adrian Edwards, a spokesman for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), who spoke at a press conference in Geneva.
The agency had anticipated a total of 185,000 registered refugees by the end of this year. With 30,000 more arriving in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq in the past seven days alone, the actual number is much higher. Many of them are under 18, including unaccompanied children.
In Damascus and Aleppo, fighting continues. Activists said Syrian army tanks reached the centre of the Damascus suburb of Darayya, after shelling killed about 20 people.
According to the UNHRC, the number of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) is 1.2 million. Another 2.5 million need humanitarian aid.
In Jordan, a record 2,200 people crossed the border overnight and were received at Zaatari camp in the north. In Lebanon, where some 51,000 Syrians have already found refuge, the fighting in Syria has spilled over, pitting Sunnis pro-Assad Alawis continue. In Iraq, schools near the border are overflowing just as children prepare to go back to school.
The largest contingent of refugees has fled to Turkey, which now hosts more than 78,000 Syrian refugees, according to the country's Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate, a sharp rise on the 44,000 registered there at the end of July.
Ankara, saying it will not be able to accommodate more than 100,000 refugees, has suggested that the United Nations set up a safe haven inside Syria to staunch the outflow.
The rising tide of refugees is directly related to the escalating violence of the summer months. In the past 72 hours, at least 70 people have been killed in Darayya, most of them civilians.
More than 90 people were killed across Syria on Friday, 220 since Thursday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. In the past three weeks, the death toll topped 4,000.
Reports are coming in claiming that Assad's forces are handing out flyers encouraging people to flee to neighbouring countries, especially Turkey, to put pressure on the latter.
Despite the violent escalation, like every Friday since the start of the uprising in March 2012, Syrians took to the streets yesterday in opposition to the regime and outrage at the international community's failure to stop the bloodshed. In some places, people should, "We are disgusted by the world!