Kuwait Leads Aid Pledges for Syria
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Donor nations at the Second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria have so far promised more than $1.2 billion of new funding to alleviate the suffering of Syrians affected by their country's civil war.
Millions of Syrians have been driven from their homes as a result of the crisis, now in its third year, and getting aid to many of those in need remains a challenge because they remain trapped in communities besieged by the fighting.
The United Nations is asking for a staggering $6.5 billion this year to help Syrians affected by the war, its largest-ever funding appeal for a single crisis. Officials don't expect to raise the entire amount in Kuwait but do hope the gathering focuses greater international attention on the conflict, AP reported.
"The fighting has set Syria back by years, even decades," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the start of the event in the Kuwaiti capital on Wednesday.
Ban said humanitarian and development agencies "face unprecedented demands" because of the crisis, and that it "is vital... the burden be shared” in helping meet Syria's growing aid needs.
Kuwait's emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, opened the conference by pledging $500 million, significantly topping the OPEC member nation's pledge of $300 million last year.
He pressed the UN Security Council to exert greater effort in bringing an end to the crisis, and urged all those fighting in Syria to "put the fate of their country and the safety of their people above all other considerations."
Last year's donor conference in Kuwait raised more than $1.5 billion in humanitarian aid pledges, and officials are hoping to at least raise that much again this year.
Humanitarian needs have escalated dramatically since a similar donor conference in the oil-rich Persian Gulf nation last January.
The United Nations warns that 9.3 million people inside Syria need assistance as the conflict grinds on, including some 6.5 million inside Syria who have been driven from their homes.
More than 2 million people have been uprooted from their homes, many scattered in refugee camps and informal settlements dotting neighboring Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.