UN says Syria refugees top 2 million mark

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon will brief the 10 non-permanent members of the Security Council on the status of the investigations on use of chemical weapons in Syria, as he discussed with his top officials on expediting the investigations, his spokesperson has said.

Mr. Ban discussed with Ake Sellstrhead of the U.N. Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria, on how to expedite the process of analyzing the samples according to established international standards and regulations.

“Since the return of the Mission last Saturday, the U.N. team worked around the clock to finalize the preparations of the samples in view of their shipment to the designated laboratories. The samples were shipped this afternoon from The Hague and will reach their destination within hours,” the spokesperson said on Monday.

The designated laboratories are prepared to begin the analyses immediately after receipt of samples, he added.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ban continued to be in close contact with the five permanent members of the Security Council and will brief the 10 non-permanent members of the Council on the latest developments on Wednesday.

“Also Angela Kane, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, is due to brief Member States that wrote to the Secretary-General requesting the investigation of the alleged use of chemical weapons in Ghouta area of Damascus on 21 August 2013,” the spokesperson said.

Syrian opposition and the West have accused President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces of using chemical weapons on August 21 in a Damascus suburb, a charge denied by the government.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has claimed that blood and hair samples collected from the chemical attack site in Syria have “tested positive for signatures of sarin gas.”

He pushed for a military strike against the Assad regime over its alleged use of the deadly weapon.

More than 2 million have fled Syria

The U.N. refugee agency says the number of refugees fleeing Syria’s violence has surpassed the 2 million mark another tragic sign of a civil war that shows no sign of letting up.

Antonio Guterres, the head of the Office for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, says Syria is haemorrhaging an average of almost 5,000 citizens a day across its borders, many of them with little more than the clothes they are wearing.

Mr. Guterres said in a statement on Tuesday that nearly 1.8 million of the refugees have fled in the past 12 months alone.

The agency’s special envoy, Angelina Jolie, says “some neighbouring countries could be brought to the point of collapse” if the situation keeps deteriorating at its current pace.

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