Syria: record numbers of refugees flee

In addition, some 5,000 people are believed to have been killed during the 31 days of August, making this the bloodiest month of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

The UN High Commission for Refugees estimates that a total of 234,368 people have left Syria for neighbouring countries, with the biggest concentrations found in Turkey and Jordan. Several thousand have even arrived in Iraq – the first refugees to choose to enter the country for at least 25 years.

Melissa Fleming, the UNHCR spokesman, described last month’s outflow as “quite an astonishing number”.

Many more Syrians have been displaced within their country’s borders. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent puts the number of “internally displaced persons” at 1.5 million, meaning that about 8 per cent of the entire population have fled their homes during the last 19 months of conflict.

Because of the collapse of public services, perhaps another 1 million people need humanitarian aid inside the country, bringing the total requiring some form of relief to 2.5 million – or 12 per cent of the total population. Privately, UN officials are planning for this number to increase to as many as 4 million.