Europe must open its doors to more Syrian refugees, having welcomed only a "miniscule" number while Syria's neighbours have reached "saturation point", the UN refugee agency UNHCR said yesterday.

Syrian refugees, whose numbers are set to pass three million in the next few weeks, are almost all in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, with smaller numbers in Iraq and Egypt. But that is changing, said UNHCR chief spokeswoman Melissa Fleming.

"The trend is obvious now, they're moving beyond the neighbouring countries. The neighbouring countries have reached saturation point. Many Syrians are now seeking refuge in Europe and we're asking Europe to do more."

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In more than three years of war, few Syrians have made it to Europe. There have been 123,600 asylum requests, mostly in Sweden and Germany, but that includes those who have asked for asylum in several countries.