Correction: Lebanon-Syrian Refugees story



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BEIRUT — In a story Jan. 20 about the flow of Syrian refugees into Lebanon, The Associated Press incorrectly quoted the U.N. refugee agency's representative in Lebanon as saying that the number of refugees registered by UNHCR in Lebanon dropped by 44 percent in 2014, compared to the previous year. She said the number increased by 44 percent in 2014 compared with the year before, despite the drop in recent months.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Flow of Syrian refugees to Lebanon drops after restrictions

Flow of Syrian refugees to Lebanon drops after Beirut imposed restrictions, UN official says

BEIRUT — The flow of Syrian refugees into Lebanon has dropped sharply due to restrictions recently imposed by the authorities in the tiny Arab country, a U.N. official said Tuesday.

Lebanon earlier this month imposed new, strict visa regulations on their neighbors — the first such move in decades — though border officials began informally restricting the entry of Syrians since last October.

Despite the drop in recent months, the number of refugees that were registered with UNHCR increased by 44 percent in 2014, said Ninette Kelley, the U.N. refugee agency's representative in Lebanon.

"Our annual monthly registration fell from 59,000 a month in 2013 to 37,000 a month and most of this was due to the last quarter (of 2014) where our reduction in numbers was down to some in average 14,000 persons per month," Kelley told reporters in Beirut.

This is largely "as a result of the progressive tightening of border," she said.

Before Syria's crisis erupted in March 2011, an estimated 23 million people lived in Syria. Now, nearly half are displaced — 7.6 million have fled their homes but still live inside Syria while more than 3.2 million have become refugees in other countries.

The UNHCR says there are about 1,150,000 Syrian refugees registered in Lebanon now, equal to a quarter of Lebanon's own population of 4.5 million. Beirut estimates there are another 500,000 unregistered Syrians in the country.

Asked if she expects a bigger drop in 2015, Kelley was affirmative though she still had no numbers for January.

"We see that fewer people are being admitted even under an exceptional humanitarian ground," she said. "Access to Lebanon by refugees has been severely restricted."

Syria's crisis began with an uprising against President Bashar Assad's government then turned into a civil war that has so far killed 220,000 people.

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