The number of people forced to flee their homes in southwestern Syria as a result of the two week escalation in fighting has climbed to 270,000 people, the U.N. refugee spokesman in Jordan said. The United Nations said last week 160,000 had been displaced as they fled heavy bombardment and mostly took shelter in villages and areas near the Israeli and Jordanian borders.
"Our latest update shows the figure of displaced across southern Syria has exceeded 270,000 people," Mohammad Hawari, UNHCR's Jordan spokesman told Reuters.
The United Nations has warned of a humanitarian catastrophe in the southwest caused by the fighting that erupted after a Russian-backed army offensive to recapture opposition-held southern Syria.
Jordan, which has taken in more than half a million displaced Syrians since the war began, and Israel have said they will not open their borders to refugees. Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told reporters yesterday after a meeting with U.N. officials that shipments of aid were waiting to get approvals to enter into Syria from the Jordanian border.
Syrian regime forces and allies launched an offensive on opposition-held areas of Daraa on June 19. The city of Daraa is where anti-regime protests began in March 2011 as part of the Arab Spring in Syria and later escalated into a civil war that has so far killed 400,000 and displaced half the country's population. Daraa and the adjacent province of Quneitra are mostly held by opposition forces, while the regime controls most of the province of Sweida to the east. Syria's war has killed more than 350,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-regime protests.