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In Pictures: Trial and hardship for Syria's female refugees Add to ...

The number of Syrian refugees fleeing the civil war who have registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey has almost tripled since April, 2012, and now stands at 120,000.

The actual number of refugees is thought to be as much as 10 times that, as many people register only when they run out of resources. Three-quarters are women and children.

In Lebanon, the refugees are scattered around the small villages close to the border. Most of them live in isolated farm sheds, stables or makeshift tents, surviving on food rations delivered sporadically by local NGOs or by working as field labourers, with no assistance provided by the Lebanese government.

Wary of the Hezbollah and secret-service agents allied with the Assad regime who constantly look for “dissidents” in Lebanon, they live a secluded life, as isolated as possible from the local people, without the comfort of their friends.

Resigned to the fact that they might have to settle for a long time in a country that doesn't want them, they speak with sorrow and nostalgia about a Syria that many fear will never be the same again, no matter the outcome of the current crisis. Their names have been changed for security reasons.

Writer Matteo Fagotto and photographer Matilde Gattoni report from the Lebanese-Syrian border.

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