UN wants record sum for Syria

NEW YORK — The United Nations has launched the largest appeal in its history – seeking US $5 billion for humanitarian aid to Syria.

The UN estimates more than 10 million Syrians – half the population – will need help by the end of the year.

As many as four million children are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, the UN children’s agency Unicef says.

UN humanitarian officials have admitted they may struggle to raise the record sums they are now asking for.

Governments were criticised for being slow to commit funds to the previous UN target of $1.5 billionn for the first six months of this year.

UN officials say most of that money, $1.2 billion – has now been committed, he adds.

But, in Geneva today, the UN said it had revised up the amount of funding needed because of the worsening security situation in Syria.

One in three Syrians is now in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, UN Emergency Relief Co-ordinator Valerie Amos said in a news conference today.

“Between January and April, the number of people displaced in Syria more than doubled. These are massive figures, but those figures mask a human tragedy,” she added.

The UN expects the number of refugees – currently more than 1.5 million – to leap to nearly 3.5 million by the end of 2013.

Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, told reporters that refugee camps were currently receiving 7,000 new arrivals every day – putting huge pressure on Syria’s neighbours.

“Funding Syria’s humanitarian needs is a matter not only of generosity but enlightened self-interest,” he said.

Within Syria itself, UN officials estimate that nearly seven million people will be dependent on aid, having been forced to flee their homes. (BBC)

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