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UN Chief Meets With New Syrian Envoy

The new United Nations and Arab League peace envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, says he was "scared" about taking up the post.
Lakhdar Brahimi, the new U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, has met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

The visit by the veteran Algerian diplomat was Brahimi's first public appearance there since he accepted the task of trying to negotiate an end to Syria's civil war.

Brahimi said he was "honored, flattered, humbled and scared" when contacted by Ban about the job.

"Secretary-General, I think, when you called me, I told you that I was honored, flattered, humbled and scared. I am still in that frame of mind. I will definitely give this my very, very best. I know a few people in Syria, and in the region. I have already spoken a little bit about the situation there and about how I was going to serve the United Nations and yourself, the Arab League and Dr. Nabil ElAraby, but above all the Syrian people," Brahimi said.

Brahimi said his predecessor, Kofi Annan, had failed in the mission because "the international community was not as supportive as he needed them to be."

International Backing

Ban said Brahimi had the backing of the international community to help resolve the Syrian crisis.

I am deeply concerned, as you are, as all the members of the international community, that still fighting is going on. The longer this fighting goes on the more people will be killed, the more people will suffer. In that regard, your contribution, your leadership, will be very important," Ban said.

Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency says more than 200,000 Syrians have fled to neighboring countries during the conflict, surpassing their earlier estimates.

The total reflects an increase of about 30,000 in the past week alone to Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan, but also takes into account those awaiting registration in Jordan, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said.

"There has been a dramatic increase in the number of [Syrian] refugees in the region during August. We're now at over 200,000 refugees in the region that's over and above our planning figure for all 2012 of 185,000 refugees in the region. So clearly we are going to have to revisit the planning," said UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards

Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate said more than 3,500 refugees from Syria have entered Turkey over the past 24 hours, one of the highest daily refugee flows since the start of the uprising last year.

With reporting by Reuters and AP
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