Sep 4, 2012 / 9:00 pm
More than 100,000 Syrians fled their country in August, the highest monthly total since the crisis began in March 2011, the U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday.
That exodus sharply increased the number of Syrians now living in neighbouring countries, bringing the total number of refugees to 234,368 in the past 17 months, the agency said.
Along with activists' reports that the death toll in August was also the highest in the civil war with 5,000 killed, all signs are pointing to unprecedented levels of misery in a country where President Bashar Assad's regime is fighting an increasingly violent rebellion.
"If you do the math, it's quite an astonishing number," U.N. refugee agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said of the number of people who fled in August, speaking to reporters Tuesday in Geneva.
"And it points to a significant escalation in refugee movement and people seeking asylum, and probably points to a very precarious and violent situation inside the country," she said.
But even the August figure only counts refugees who are registered and those awaiting registration. Officials acknowledge the real number of Syrian refugees is likely way above 200,000, because tens of thousands are believed to have not yet contacted authorities.
The uprising began with largely peaceful protests of Assad's regime but has turned into a civil war that activists say has killed at least 23,000 people.
Heilprin reported from Geneva. AP writers David Rising in Berlin and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.
Read more World News
- Tornado death toll now at 24
- Did cheese fight lead to poisoning?
- Photographer describes kids' rescue
- Singer, 18, now up in the Clouds
- White House staff knew of tax probe
- Penn urges US to pressure Bolivia
- Missing in Mexico
- United Airlines resumes 787 flights
- Jackson concerts cost AEG $24M
- Oklahoma school takes direct hit
- James Caan revisits the '70s at Cannes
- Military sex abuse victims seek care
(Click for RSS instructions.)