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U.N. seeks $5 billion-plus in aid for suffering Syrian people

June 07, 2013|By Raja Abdulrahim
  • Damaged buildings in Qusair city, Homs province in central Syria on Thursday, after Syrian soldiers, backed by Hezbollah fighters, seized total control of the city and the surrounding regions.
Damaged buildings in Qusair city, Homs province in central Syria on Thursday,… (STR / EPA )

The United Nations launched a  $5.1-billion humanitarian appeal Friday, its largest-ever aid request, for millions of Syrians who have suffered as a result of the conflict that began in 2011.

The appeal to donor nations on behalf of Syrians inside and outside the country came as Syrian government forces and its allies seized a strategic town on the Lebanese border and prospects further dimmed for a negotiated settlement.

More than 1.6 million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries and 4.25 million have been internally displaced since the uprising began in March 2011. Many of those remaining in their homes face destruction of buildings around them, crumbling infrastructure and intermittent access to electricity and clean water.  

"Syria as a civilization is unraveling with as many as half of its citizens in need of urgent help as a result of this savage conflict," said U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres. "The funds we are appealing for are a matter of survival for suffering Syrians and they are essential for neighboring countries that are hosting refugees."

The donor request Friday increased by $4 billion an earlier funding appeal by the U.N. as the need for aid has intensified. It includes money for the Lebanese and Jordanian governments, which have had difficulty keeping pace with the flow of refugees into their countries.

The U.N. estimates there could be as many as 3.45 million refugees by year's end, as well as almost 7 million people inside Syria in need of help.

Speaking at the U.N. donor meeting, Dr. Mego Terzian, president of Doctors Without Borders, which is operating within opposition-controlled portions of Syria, said that living conditions have deteriorated dramatically and those in such areas have almost no access to official international aid.

“The reality is that the official international aid system is not working,” he said. “We must, and we can, find other solutions.”

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