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article imageRefugee numbers increase as fighting in Syria intensifies

By Nancy Houser     Aug 24, 2012 in World
Beirut - On Friday, August 24, 2012, the United Nations announced that a growing flow of Syria refugees is much higher than originally expected. The new data demonstrates that a humanitarian crisis will soon be pulling in neighboring countries.
Anti-government activists have recently reported that the Syrian military is using artillery and airstrikes against Homs, Deir al-Zour, and Damascus, while violent fighting continued in Aleppo. Up to this point, it appeared as if diplomacy was an impossibility from all sides.
Meanwhile, the French government is taking part in enforcing a partial no-fly zone over Syria, when renewed shelling began hitting Damascus. Reports from opposition activists state that the Syrian army used multiple rocket launchers when attacking Daraya, a suburb of Damascus.
A special meeting was set up in New York between United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the new United Nations and Arab League representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, to discuss Brahimi's assignment. His predecessor, Kofi Annan, had said the assignment was "mission impossible."
According to the DW-DE, over 200,000 Syrians have fled the country. The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has stated that the refugees have registered in Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Last week alone, over 30,000 new arrivals arrived when only 185,000 registered refuges were expected.
“We’re already past where we were in terms of planning,” Adrian Edwards, a spokesman for the refugee agency, said in a telephone interview from its headquarters in Geneva. “We’re going to have to revise upward the planning figures.”The exodus has heightened tensions in nearly every country where the fleeing families have appeared, and the departures at least partly reflect increased fighting in Damascus and Aleppo, Syria’s two largest cities. But government forces have also dropped leaflets encouraging people to flee, especially from Aleppo, suggesting that President Bashar al-Assad may be trying to use refugees to punish Syria’s neighbors.
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