Number of Syrian refugees in neighboring countries tops 1.6 mn

Geneva, May 31 (EFE).- The number of Syrians who have fled their own land to seek refuge in neighboring countries is now more than 1.6 million, the U.N. Refugee Agency said Friday.

At least 3,000 of the new refugees streamed into Lebanon from the city of al-Qusayr, the target of an intense offensive over the past three weeks.

"UNHCR was able to witness the dire humanitarian situation of these displaced families," agency spokesman Dan McNorton said in Geneva.

"Due to the poor sanitation and hygiene conditions in which people were living, many, especially children, were suffering from diarrhea, respiratory problems, high fevers, ear infections and skin diseases," he said of the families who fled al-Qusayr.

The UNHCR spokesman was unable to provide details about the other 100,000 refugees who have crossed the border in the last 15 days.

For its part, the International Organization for Migration said its figures show that some 700 people crossed the border into Jordan in the past few days and have arrived at the Zaatari refugee camp.

The Syrian civil war has entered its 16th month, having left 80,000 dead to date.

Besides the 1.6 million who have fled the country, U.N. agencies estimate the number of internally displaced people at more than 4 million and that one-third of the Syrian population is in need of humanitarian aid.