GENEVA (Reuters) - The number of refugees fleeing Syria has risen by several thousand in the past few days and now tops 34,000, according to U.N. estimates and data, while hundreds of thousands are thought to be displaced within Syria.
The number of refugees was up by about 4,000 from figures given by the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR on March 13.
Turkey is considering setting up a “security” or “buffer” zone along its border with Syria, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday. Ankara has urged all Turkish citizens inside Syria to return to Turkey as soon as possible.
UNHCR does not have accurate data on the number of internally displaced people in Syria, but its regional coordinator Panos Moumtzis said the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society estimated the number at 200,000, which was the figure being used by U.N. agencies.
“There are some indications it is much larger than that,” he told a regular U.N. news briefing on March 13.
About 14,700 Syrians are in eight camps set up in Turkey’s southern provinces of Hatay and Gaziantep. UNHCR says 23,000 people have received protection there since April 2011, but many have returned to Syria. The Turkish government plans to move most of the refugees to a purpose-built container city in Kilis province.
Syrian forces have laid mines near the borders of Lebanon and Turkey along routes used to escape the conflict in Syria, advocacy group Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday.
In Lebanon, there are about 5,000 Syrian refugees in the Bekaa Valley.
On March 5, residents in the hillside town of Arsal in the Bekaa Valley told Reuters that up to 150 families had arrived from Syria the previous day, one of the biggest influxes so far. Those families trekked on foot through snow-capped hills to safety, but many others were caught, one refugee told Reuters.
In northern Lebanon and Tripoli, the UNHCR and the Lebanon High Relief Commission have jointly registered 7,913 refugees.
There are thought to be about 1,000 Syrian refugees in other parts of Lebanon.
In Jordan 5,391 Syrians have been registered over the last year, and about 2,000 are awaiting registration.
There are 110,000 refugees within Syria, not including refugees from the Palestinian territories. Of the 110,000, all but 8,000 are from Iraq. Some 67,000 Iraqis have returned to Iraq in the past year.
Reporting by Tom Miles; editing by Stephanie Nebehay