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UN: Up to 700,000 Refugees Fleeing Syria

Common Dreams staff

(photo: UNHCR/Ivan Bartolini 2012 via Flickr)

The United Nations predicts there may be up to 700,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2012, seven times the number of refugees predicted in March as civilians continue to flee ongoing violence in Syria.

“This seven fold increase has brought about a surge in the humanitarian response and a vastly expanded plan of action to respond to the needs of Syrian refugees as well as future arrivals,” stated the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

“Humanitarian needs, especially food, are growing, as thousands more Syrians pour into neighboring countries,” said Edward Kallon, Regional Refugee Emergency Coordinator of he UN's World Food Program.

The UN reports that half the Syrian refugee population is living in refugee camps, the majority in tents, bringing heightened fears as cold winter months approach.

"Winter with near-zero temperatures and cold winds is approaching as civilians experience increasing effects of the conflict. Many have fled with minimal possessions, they lack required clothes and equipment to endure the cold – and they will have to survive without heating as there is no fuel available,” says Ann Mary Olsen, head of the Danish Refugee Council International Department.

Women and children make up 75% of the refugees, according the UN.

The UN and humanitarian agencies have called for $488 million to meet the needs for assistance.

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