Up to 30,000 Syrians have fled into Lebanon over the past 48 hours, the U.N. refugee agency said on Friday.
"Thousands of Syrians crossed into Lebanon yesterday. Reports vary between 8,500 and 30,000 people having crossed in the past 48 hours," UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told reporters in Geneva.
"People continue to arrive in Jordan, Turkey ... they are flooding into Lebanon and increasingly into Iraq," she said.
In Thursday's fighting, more than 300 people were killed, the majority of whom were civilians, making it the heaviest toll yet in 16 months of fighting, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday.
The release of the refugee figures came as the U.N. agency's High Commissioner expressed concern for Syrians forced to flee the country and those displaced within the country's borders.
"With the spread of deadly violence, I am gravely concerned for the thousands of Syrian refugees who have been forced to flee their homes," he said.
"I fear for the civilians caught up in the violence in Damascus, including the large Iraqi population residing there."
The U.N. agency said it was unable today to give an exact number of displaced people in Syria but estimated last week that "one million people may have been forced to flee inside the country since the conflict began".
Lebanese authorities were on Friday scrambling to brace more Syrian refugees in light of the influx.
An Nahar daily quoted informed sources as saying that more than 20,000 have crossed the Masnaa border in eastern Lebanon alone since Wednesday.
Most of them came from Damascus which witnessed a dramatic situation following the bombing that killed three of Syrian President Bashar Assad's top aides.
The Syrian army resorted to tank fire in the capital for the first time in its efforts to root out rebel fighters a day after the blast.
Social Affairs Minister Wael Abou Faour told An Nahar that some refugees came on foot from illegal crossings on the mountains that separate eastern Lebanon from Syria.
Abou Faour said he asked Premier Najib Miqati to give instructions to Education Minister Hassan Diab to shelter the refugees at public schools.
Two schools in al-Marj and Majdel Anjar were opened for them on Thursday night ahead of finding an alternative location, the minister told Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3).
An Nahar also quoted a military source as saying that the army command has given instructions since the first refugees began arriving in Lebanon to provide them with humanitarian aid.
|Copyright © 2012 Naharnet.com. All Rights Reserved.||http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/47181|