The pledge arose from an appeal for $6.5 billion launched last
month that is the largest in U.N. history. The world body estimates
that the conflict has reversed development gains in Syria by 35
years, with half its people now living in poverty.
But only 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."
She decried the increasing tactic of siege warfare while U.N.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said polio had returned and he was
"especially concerned" about reports of starvation.
"Children, women, men are trapped, hungry, ill, losing hope," Amos
told an international donor conference in Kuwait intended to help
the United Nations reach its $6.5 billion target for the crisis in
Kuwait's ruling emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, promised $500
million in fresh assistance, 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.
The $1.5 billion promised via the United Nations at a similar
meeting last year in Kuwait was used in Syria and surrounding
countries to provide food rations, medicine, drinking water and
The largest donations at that conference came from Gulf Arab
governments, who have backed Syrian rebels trying to oust President
"Even under the best circumstances, the fighting has set back Syria
years, even decades," said Ban, who is chairing the Kuwait
"I am especially concerned that the sides are using violence against
women and girls to denigrate and dehumanize their opponents. I call
for an immediate end to these abuses, which harm individuals and
undermine Syria's future."
Ban has previously expressed regret that not all the promised
donations have been received from the last meeting, with 20-30
percent still lacking.
Ban told the gathering on Wednesday he hoped peace talks due to
start in Switzerland on January 22 would bring the Syrian government
and opposition to the negotiating table — although Assad's
adversaries are deeply split over whether to attend.
[to top of second column]
"I hope this will launch a political process to establish a
transitional governing body with a full executive powers, and most
importantly, end the violence," he said.
FOOD RATIONS FOR RECORD 3.8 MILLION PEOPLE
The World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday it had delivered
rations to a record 3.8 million people in Syria in December, but
civilians in eastern provinces and besieged towns near the capital
remain out of reach.
The U.N. agency voiced concern at reports of malnutrition in
besieged areas, especially of children caught up in the fighting,
and called for greater access.
Shooting forced the United Nations to abort a delivery of food and
polio vaccines to one besieged district of Damascus after Syrian
authorities said it should use a circuitous and dangerous route, a
U.N. spokesman said on Wednesday.
Aid workers in Syria have accused authorities of hampering
deliveries to opposition-controlled areas and threatening groups
with expulsion if they try to avoid bureaucratic obstacles to help
the tens of thousands trapped people. Damascus blames rebel attacks
for aid delays.
The WFP says it needs to raise $35 million every week to meet the
food needs of people both inside Syria and in neighboring countries.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday that Syria's
government and some rebels might be willing to permit humanitarian
aid to flow, enforce local ceasefires and take other
Kerry said he and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had mooted
the possibility of trying to encourage a ceasefire, possibly
beginning with Aleppo, Syria's largest city.
(Reporting by Sylvia Westall; writing by Rania El Gamal,
William Maclean and Mark Heinrich)
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