UN Raises Syrian Refugee Estimate – Again
The United Nations has again raised its estimate of the number of Syrians who will flee their country by the end of this year.
At least 710,000 Syrians will have abandoned the nation by the end of 2012, estimates the U.N. agency for refugees.
The figure was raised by an additional 10,000 only a week after the international body and other agencies published a report placing the figure at a possible 700,000 refugees at year's end.
The number does not include the death toll of nearly 30,000 Syrians who have been killed since the savage civil war was ignited in March 2011 by the region-wide Arab Spring uprisings.
Syrians have abandoned their homes and crossed their borders for the relative safety of Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey instead.
According to the U.N., at least 311,500 Syrian refugees currently live in neighboring states. Many others who sought temporary refuge there have since returned home to Syria.
The civil war that now wracks the country began as a simply protest, scrawled as graffiti by a teen on a wall in the town of Dera'a. The brutal response to the protest action – the arrest and torture of the teen by government soldiers – launched demonstrations, albeit peaceful and unarmed, across the country.
But the unrelenting crackdown on protests by President Bashar al-Assad that followed included arrests, tortures and murders of protesters. It eventually led to an escalation that culminated in defections from the Syrian Army that formed the nucleus of the opposition Free Syrian Army, and ultimately the basis for the current armed conflict that has become an open civil war – with no end in sight.