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UNHCR appoints Syria co-ordinator

2012-03-13 19:43

Geneva - The UN refugee agency said on Tuesday it had appointed a special co-ordinator for Syria, as thousands flee the Damascus regime's deadly repression.

Panos Moumtzis, the agency's new regional co-ordinator for Syrian refugees, called for borders to remain open to help those displaced by the year-old violence.

"Official data from surrounding countries and UNHCR's own registration figures indicate that around 30 000 people have fled to neighbouring countries while significant numbers of Syrians are thought to be displaced inside Syria," said Moumtzis.

"Right after this meeting, I will be travelling to the region," he told journalists.

Moumtzis is scheduled to meet representatives from aid agencies to examine the amount of relief supplies needed to be prepositioned.

As the UNHCR's figure reflected the number of registered refugees, the real number of people who have fled Syria is expected to be much larger.

In Syria itself, the number of internally displaced has reached about 200 000, said the UNHCR, quoting Syrian Red Crescent data.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates that 8 500 people have been killed in the crackdown since the popular uprising began in March 2011.