UN says 30,000 Syrian refugees cross into Lebanon
Geneva: Up to 30,000 Syrian refugees may have fled the conflict in their country and crossed into Lebanon, the UN agency for refugees said on Friday.
Melissa Fleming, the chief spokeswoman of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said the agency has received varying reports about 8,500 to 30,000 Syrians crossing the border.
"Borders remain open... people continue to flood into Lebanon," she said.
An estimated one million people may have been forced to flee the country since the rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011, according to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.
A total of 120,000 Syrian refugees have sought protection in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey, according to the UNHCR July 18 registration statistics. Host governments say the numbers are much higher.
Many newly arriving Syrian refugees are entirely dependent on humanitarian aid. Some have come following many months of unemployment, the UN agency said.
"The needs of those who arrived earlier in the year are also increasing as their savings have become depleted," it said.
Local infrastructure in countries hosting the refugees has come under severe pressure especially water, housing, school and health facilities, the agency said.
UNHCR is also assisting 35,000 cash-strapped families in Syria. It said the number of people seeking help with cash to rent apartments and buy basic household items is growing.
It said Syrian banks are reported to be running out of cash.
A rush to find safe housing has caused rents in some places to spike to USD 100 a night.
UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres said: "I fear for the civilians caught up in the violence in Damascus, including the large Iraqi refugee population residing there."
There are over 88,000 registered Iraqi refugees in Syria, most of them living in Damascus, and around 8,000 refugees from other countries, the UNHCR said.