A Syrian removes water and mud from around his tent at the Zaatari refugee camp on January 9, 2013
A Syrian removes water and mud from around his tent at the Zaatari refugee camp, near the Syrian border with Jordan in Mafraq, on January 9, 2013. More than 700,000 Syrian refugees have registered or are awaiting registration in neighbouring countries as the conflict in their war-torn nation spirals further out of control, according to the UN's refugee agency. © Khalil Mazraawi - AFP/File
A Syrian removes water and mud from around his tent at the Zaatari refugee camp on January 9, 2013
AFP
Last updated: January 29, 2013

More than 700,000 Syrian refugees in region, says UN

More than 700,000 Syrian refugees have registered or are awaiting registration in neighbouring countries as the conflict in their war-torn nation spirals further out of control, the UN's refugee agency said Tuesday.

"We've had a huge push in the last few weeks. The needs are enormous," UNHCR spokeswoman Sybella Wilkes told AFP, adding that a colleague on the ground had complained that "we cannot get to everyone fast enough."

She pointed out that the number of Syrians registered as refugees or awaiting processing in the surrounding countries had reached 703,314 late Monday.

Of that number, she said, more than 581,000 were registered, and aid workers were doing their best to scale up the registration process "to clear the backlog."

Wilkes pointed out that at this time last year, the UN agency was registering only a few hundred Syrian refugees each month in Lebanon.

"Now, the aim is to register 45,000 a month," she said, adding that the current average stands at around 32,000.

In Jordan, which has seen a massive influx in recent weeks, "the plan is for the month of February alone to try to register 50,000 people," Wilkes said.

About four million Syrians rely on international assistance to cope with the fallout from the 22-month old conflict in which the UN estimates more than 60,000 people have died.

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