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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Thursday, October 18, 2018

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Donors pledge nearly $1.4 billion in Syria aid

Donors from West and Gulf nations

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KUWAIT - Donors from West and Gulf nations Wednesday pledged $1.4 million in aid for Syria where half of the population, according to the United Nations, "urgently need humanitarian aid" following almost three years of civil war.

The UN last month made an appeal for $6.5 billion that is the largest in the history of the world body.

The UN held a donors meeting in Kuwait Wednesday where the donors had pledged some $1.4 billion by midday.

Delegates from nearly 70 nations and 24 international organisations gathered for the one-day event chaired by UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

Ban said that half of Syria's population now "urgently need humanitarian aid" as the world body estimates that the conflict has reversed development gains in the country by 35 years, with half its people now living in poverty.

"Half of the total population of Syrian people of nearly 9.3 million individuals urgently needs humanitarian aid," Ban said.

Ban said he was "especially concerned about reports of starvation" in Syria.

The host country, Kuwait, led the donations with a pledge for $500 million announced by the emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah at the opening of the conference. Saudi Arabia pledged $250 million and Qatar $60 million.

The US promised $380 million while the United Kingdom announced a $164 million.

Norway said it would contribute $75 million.

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos condemned Syrian rebels and government forces alike for showing "total disregard for their responsibilities under international humanitarian and human rights law".

Amos told the Kuwait conference, "Children, women, men are trapped, hungry, ill, losing hope."

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 shelters.

Ban, who chaired the Kuwait conference, said "even under the best circumstances, the fighting has set back Syria years, even decades".

"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.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said he was "proud that (America) is the leading donor of humanitarian aid".

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