GENEVA (AP) - The U.N. refugee agency says about 84,000 people fled the escalating civil war in Syria in December alone, bringing the total number of those displaced since the beginning of the 22-month-old conflict to around half a million.
The agency said Wednesday that the number of registered refugees rose from about 394,000 to 478,000 within a month. If those still awaiting registration are included, around 569,000 people have fled Syria for neighboring countries.
It says Turkey hosts the largest group of registered Syrian refugees, totaling almost 150,000 as of Jan. 1. Some 130,000 people have fled to Lebanon, and another 120,000 to Jordan. Iraq hosts some 68,000 refugees.
Separately, another U.N. body said new figures suggest more than 60,000 people have died in the Syrian conflict, topping activists' estimate of 45,000.