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Number of Syria refugees in Lebanon passes 1 million mark

More than one million Syrians have registered as refugees in Lebanon after fleeing war in their country, inflicting a "staggering" impact on the tiny Mediterranean country, the UN said on Thursday. Refugees from Syria, half of them children, now equal a quarter of Lebanon's resident population, the UN refugee agency said in a statement, warning that most of them live in poverty and depend on aid for survival. The UNHCR branded the one million figure as "a devastating milestone worsened by rapidly depleting resources and a host community stretched to breaking point".

Number of Syria refugees registered in Lebanon surpasses 1 mn

The number of Syrians registered as refugees in Lebanon after fleeing war in their country has surpassed one million, the UN refugee agency said on Thursday. Refugees from Syria, half of them children, now equal a quarter of Lebanon's resident population, the UNHCR said in a statement, warning that most of them live in poverty and depend on aid for survival. The UN agency said the figure is "a devastating milestone worsened by rapidly depleting resources and a host community stretched to breaking point".

Iraq attacks kill 14 as UN warns of 'divisive' polls

Attacks against security forces killed 14 people Wednesday as the UN's envoy to Iraq warned that the country's election campaign would be "highly divisive" amid a year-long surge in bloodshed. The attacks came on the second day of campaigning for April 30 parliamentary polls, Iraq's first since March 2010. Violence is at its highest since 2008 and the country is still struggling to rebuild its battered economy and infrastructure after decades of conflict.

Syria accuses rebels of planning gas attack near Damascus

By Michelle Nichols UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Syria is charging in a letter to the United Nations that opposition groups are planning a toxic gas attack in a rebel-held area near Damascus so they can then blame it on government security forces. In a letter dated March 25 and circulated by the U.N. this week, Syria's U.N. envoy, Bashar Ja'afari, said his government had intercepted communications between "terrorists" that showed a man named Abu Nadir was secretly distributing gas masks in the rebel-held Jobar area.

Iraq suicide bomb kills 6 as UN warns of 'divisive' polls

A suicide bomber killed six army recruits Wednesday as the UN's envoy to Iraq warned that the country's election campaign would be "highly divisive" amid a year-long surge in bloodshed. The attack came on the second day of campaigning for April 30 parliamentary polls, Iraq's first since March 2010. Violence is at its highest since 2008 and the country is still struggling to rebuild its battered economy and infrastructure after decades of conflict.

Berlin to send frigate to help destroy Syrian chemical weapons

The German government agreed on Wednesday to send a frigate to take part in an international mission in the Mediterranean Sea to destroy Syria's chemical weapons. Up to 300 German soldiers will take part in the deployment to help protect the US vessel, MV Cape Ray, aboard which the weapons will be broken down at sea using hydrolysis. The German mandate runs until December at the latest and must be approved by the Bundestag lower house of parliament where the left-right "grand coalition" has an overwhelming majority.

Iraq suicide bomb kills 6 as UN warns of 'divisive' polls

A suicide bomber killed six army recruits Wednesday as the UN's envoy to Iraq warned that the country's election campaign would be "highly divisive" amid a year-long surge in bloodshed. The attack came on the second day of campaigning for April 30 parliamentary polls, Iraq's first since March 2010. Violence is at its highest since 2008 and the country is still struggling to rebuild its battered economy and infrastructure after decades of conflict.

Lebanon army expands operation in restive Tripoli

Lebanese troops on Wednesday moved into a restive Sunni area in northern Tripoli, in the second stage of a plan aimed at quelling deadly Syria-linked violence, a security source said. Residents welcomed the deployment, saying they hoped it would help bring normality to the city. The military operation in Bab al-Tebbaneh comes a day after the army entered the Alawite district of Jabal Mohsen. It follows orders from ministers last week for security forces to move into the city, where at least 30 people were killed in two weeks of fighting in March.

Lebanon army expands operation in restive Tripoli

Lebanese troops moved into a restive Sunni area in the northern city of Tripoli Wednesday, in the second stage of a plan aimed at quelling deadly Syria-linked violence there, a security source said. Residents welcomed the deployment, saying they hoped it would help bring normality to the city, and several families displaced by the violence were able to return to their homes. The move into Bab al-Tebbaneh comes a day after the army entered the neighbouring Alawite district of Jabal Mohsen.

UN envoy warns of 'divisive' Iraq election campaign

Campaigning for Iraq's April 30 elections will be "highly divisive" as parties appeal to their sectarian bases at a time of worsening violence, the UN's envoy to Baghdad has warned. Nickolay Mladenov also pushed for Iraqi leaders to urgently pass a much-delayed annual budget within two weeks, noting that further postponing the spending bill would badly impact on drawing much-needed business and investment to the country.
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