Donors pledge $1 bln aid to Syria

Donors pledge $1 bln aid to Syria

KUWAIT CITY – Agence France-Presse
Donors pledge $1 bln aid to Syria

Delegates attend the International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria at Bayan Palace, Kuwait City, Kuwait, on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013. AP Photo

International donors at a Kuwait conference today pledged almost $1 billion in aid to help civilians affected by the conflict in Syria.

“Total pledges so far are around $1 billion,” a Gulf official said requesting anonymity, adding that “Saudi Arabia has pledged $300 million,” after Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates each pledged a similar amount.

Addressing the so-named International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria in Kuwait City, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for urgent financial aid, warning that if funds were not forthcoming “more Syrians will die.”

Non-governmental charity organizations, meeting in Kuwait Jan. 29 ahead of the conference, also pledged $182 million for Syrian civilians affected by the deadly conflict. The United States on Jan. 29 promised another $155 million to aid refugees fleeing the deadly conflict.

Host Kuwait was first to make a pledge, offering $300 million, followed soon after by the UAE, another oil-rich Gulf country, which according to the official WAM news agency pledged a further $300 million.

“Due to the great sufferings of the Syrian people and to help ensure the success of the conference, I announce the Kuwaiti donation of $300 million for the Syrian people,” Kuwait Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah said as he opened the one-day conference.

Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa said the tiny Gulf kingdom would offer $20 million while the German foreign ministry pledged in a statement around $13.5 million.

King Abdullah II of Jordan and Lebanese President Michel Sleiman both called at the conference for more aid to cope with increasing numbers of Syrian refugees in their respective countries.

U.N. Humanitarian Aid Chief Valerie Amos said that three million Syrians have fled their homes inside the country and that at least 2.3 million need basic help. She said that $519 million of the funds to be raised are needed to assist those most affected by the conflict.