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Gaza Palestinians fleeing Damascus arrive in Cairo

July 22, 2012 4:08 P.M. (Updated: July 24, 2012 11:00 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- About 100 Palestinians residing in Damascus have arrived in Cairo en route to the Gaza Strip, as violence between the regime of Bashar Assad and rebel fighters intensifies, Egyptian officials said Sunday.

The Palestinian embassy in Cairo is liaising with Egyptian authorities to allow the Palestinians into Egypt after they left Syria without applying for visas due to the unstable situation.

The Palestinians are not registered as refugees in Syria, but rather Gaza residents living there.

Up to 30,000 Syrian refugees may have crossed into Lebanon in the past four days, in a sharp increase of people fleeing fighting in the country, United Nations refugee agency officials say.

That would match the number of Syrians who already fled to Lebanon during the 16 months of fighting.

"We have gone from an average of 1,000 a day to possibly up to 30,000 in the last 48 hours. This is really significant, it is clearly a massive upscaling in displacement," UNHCR spokeswoman Sybella Wilkes said Friday.

On Tuesday, Iraq told its citizens to leave Syria immediately, including about 88,000 who are refugees there, most of whom live in Damascus.

About 80 buses carrying Iraqi refugees have crossed from Syria into Iraq in the last few days, UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told a news conference.

"We've also heard reports that two Iraqi government airplanes came to Damascus to evacuate their citizens."
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