• NGOs pledge $400 million for Syrians

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    KUWAIT CITY: Charity organizations pledged $400 million (292 million euros) on Tuesday to help alleviate the humanitarian plight of Syrians affected by their country’s civil war, participants at a meeting of charitable non-organizations (NGOs) said.

    Kuwait’s International Islamic Charitable Organization (IICO) said Kuwaiti charities pledged $142 million, while dozens of NGOs attending the meeting promised the rest.

    The funds will target people inside and outside Syria, where more than 130,000 people have been killed and millions displaced during the 34-month conflict, IICO said in a statement cited by the KUNA news agency.

    At a similar meeting last year, NGOs pledged $182 million for Syrian refugees.

    Tuesday’s gathering came a day before the Second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria, which aims to raise $6.5 billion for more than 13.4 million Syrians facing extreme conditions inside the country and in neighboring nations.

    The United Nations (UN) has described the appeal as the largest ever in its history for a single humanitarian emergency.

    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon will chair the one-day ministerial-level meeting, which will be opened by Kuwait’s emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah. Around 69 countries and 24 international organizations are attending.

    The conference will be attended by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who arrived in Kuwait on Tuesday after meetings on the Syria crisis in Rome and Paris.

    “It’s fair to say that the United States is doing more to help the Syrian opposition than it has done at any point in time, and it is very significant,” Kerry had said in Paris on Sunday.

    An official speaking to reporters travelling with Kerry said Washington had “given more than $1.3 billion to date, of which 700 million has been inside Syria.”

    “The US at this point is the largest single donor to the Syrian crisis, and we focused quite a bit of that on ensuring that assistance reaches as many people as we can inside,” another official said.

    The UN has said it needs $2.3 billion to support 9.3 million people inside Syria and $4.2 billion for refugees, expected to nearly double to 4.1 million by year’s end.

    Ahead of his arrival in Kuwait, Ban warned that the humanitarian situation in Syria has been deteriorating and called on donor nations to help meet the target.

    At the first donors’ conference in Kuwait in January last year, participating nations pledge $1.5 billion, 75 percent of which was delivered, according to a Kuwaiti official.

    Aid agencies say 10.5 million Syrians are food insecure or severely food insecure, more than a million children under five suffer from acute or severe malnutrition, about half the population has no access to adequate water sources or sanitation facilities and 8.6 million have insufficient access to health care.

    Lebanon is currently hosting the largest number of refugees with 905,000, followed by Jordan with 575,000, Turkey 562,000, Iraq 216,000 and Egypt 145,000.

    By the end of 2014, these numbers are estimated to rise to 1.65 million in Lebanon, 800,000 in Jordan, 1.0 million in Turkey, 400,000 in Iraq and 250,000 in Egypt.

    AFP

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