EU braces for huge influx of Syrian refugees
European Union governments are bracing for a surge in Syrian refugees that threatens to become a flood as hopes fade for a quick end to the bloody civil war, officials have said.
About two million Syrians have fled to neighbouring countries so far, with four million internally displaced as the death toll mounts to more than 110,000.
Thousands of refugees have headed for EU countries. Italy is among the worst affected, with about 3,000 refugees arriving in August alone, according to UN refugee agency data.
The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, has warned to be ready for a massive influx, especially if there are US military action against forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, one EU official said.
"For the moment, the number of those arriving is manageable," the official said.
""The vast majority do not want to leave because they still hope they will be able to return home."
The total number of Syrians seeking refuge there have risen to 4,600 so far this year, up from just 369 in 2012, the UNHCR said.
UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said most were families who had crossed the Mediterranean from Egypt. - AFP