The United Nations, facing its worst humanitarian crisis in decades, is seeking $6.5 billion to aid Syrians affected by civil war at a donors’ conference in Kuwait City on Wednesday. The global organization has described the appeal as the biggest in its history for a single humanitarian emergency.U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will chair the one-day ministerial-level Second International Pledging Conference for Syria, which will be opened by Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah.
Ban told Kuwait’s KUNA news agency that the funds will be used to aid 13.4 million Syrians whom the United Nations estimates will be affected by the conflict by the end of 2014. The figure is higher than the 10 million people announced by the United Nations seven months ago.The United Nations will need $2.3 billion to support 9.3 million people inside Syria and $4.2 billion for Syrian refugees, expected to nearly double to 4.1 million by the end of the year.Ahead of his arrival in Kuwait City, the secretary-general warned that the humanitarian situation in Syria has been deteriorating, and he called on donor countries to help meet the target. The situation has reached a “very serious … and critical” level, he told KUNA.“Almost half the population has been affected,” Ban said. “Forty percent of the hospitals have been destroyed and another 20 percent not functioning properly. This is a very sad situation. … I sincerely hope that member states will come [to the donors’ conference] with generous helping hands.”
U.N. Humanitarian and Emergency Response Coordinator Valerie Amos said in a statement ahead of the conference that funds would be used to assist civilians affected by the civil war.“In mid-December, we launched the largest ever appeal for a single humanitarian emergency,” Amos said. “We requested $6.5 billion. We are doing our utmost to support the children, women, and men affected by this bloody conflict. The funding that we need is unprecedented.”The first donors’ conference in Kuwait a year ago saw participating countries pledge $1.5 billion, but only 75 percent of the pledges were fulfilled.According to aid agencies, 10.5 million Syrians are food insecure or severely food insecure, over 1 million children younger than 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 healthcare.