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GENEVA (Reuters) - The Syrian Arab Red Crescent estimates that 2.5 million people are internally displaced within Syria by civil war, doubling the previous figure of 1.2 million used by aid agencies, the United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday.
"The figure they are using is 2.5 million. If anything, they believe it could be more, this is a very conservative estimate," Melissa Fleming, chief spokeswoman of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told a news briefing in Geneva.
"So people are moving, really on the run, hiding. They are difficult to count and access," she said.
The United Nations said on Friday that up to 4 million people inside Syria will need humanitarian aid by early next year when the country is in the grip of winter, up from 2.5 million now whose needs are not fully met.
The UNHCR has temporarily withdrawn about half of its 12 staff from north-eastern Hassaka province due to fierce fighting and insecurity that has resulted in the loss of some aid supplies and driven more Syrian Kurds into Iraq, Fleming said.
More than 407,000 Syrian refugees have registered or await registration in the surrounding region - Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq - and more are fleeing every day, she said.
Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Janet Lawrence