Western, Arab states pledge $2.4 billion in Syria aid

Wed Jan 15, 2014 2:14pm EST
 

By Sylvia Westall and Warren Strobel

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Western and Gulf Arab nations pledged more than $2.4 billion on Wednesday for U.N. aid efforts in Syria, where a near three-year civil war has left millions of people hungry, ailing or displaced.

The pledge arose from a U.N. appeal for $6.5 billion in 2014, which was launched last month and is the largest in the organization's history.

The world body estimates the conflict has reversed development gains in Syria by 35 years, with half its people now living in poverty.

But only around 70 percent of $1.5 billion pledged at a similar meeting last year has reached U.N. coffers, hinting at donor fatigue with no end to the bloodshed on the horizon.

U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said all sides in the conflict had shown "total disregard for their responsibilities under international humanitarian and human rights law".

"Children, women, men are trapped, hungry, ill, losing hope," Amos told the 69 countries attending a donor conference held in Kuwait.

The Gulf state's ruling emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, promised $500 million in new aid, while the United States announced a contribution of $380 million.

Qatar and Saudi Arabia pledged $60 million each. The European Union pledged $225 million and Britain $165 million.   Continued...

 
Smoke rises from buildings after what activists said was shelling from forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the besieged area of Homs January 15, 2014. REUTERS/Thaer Al Khalidiya