Middle East

Syria donors pledge nearly $4bn at UN crisis meeting

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Media captionThe BBC's Lina Sinjab speaks to Syrian refugee Um Bassam

Donors at a UN conference in Kuwait have pledged $3.8bn (£2.6bn; €3.5bn) for victims of Syria's civil war.

The pledges came as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon warned that the Syrian people were "victims of the worst humanitarian crisis of our time".

Donors have previously been criticised for not making good on similar pledges, but the UN says donors have been better over the past year at delivering.

More than 200,000 Syrians have been killed in four years of armed conflict.

More than 11 million people have been forced from their homes as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and those opposed to his rule battle each other, as well as the Islamic State militant group.

'Biggest humanitarian catastrophe'

The funds promised at the Kuwait conference nearly equal the combined total of $3.9bn promised at the previous two conferences, the AFP news agency says.

Mr Ban described the latest pledge as "very generous".

Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad on Tuesday made his country's latest cash pledge of $500m (£338m) while describing the crisis in Syria as the "biggest humanitarian catastrophe in modern history".

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The conference in Kuwait is taking place after one of the most violent 1 in Syria's four-year war
Image copyright AP
Image caption The UN says that aid is needed to help 18 million people in Syria and scattered through the region by the war

Meanwhile the EU pledged over $1bn, the US promised $507m, the United Arab Emirates $100m and Saudi Arabia $60m.

Tuesday's conference is the third in consecutive years to be hosted by Kuwait. It is being attended by about 60 countries and 40 international aid organisations.

Each year there has been a big difference between the target figure and the amount pledged, and UN officials have raised concerns about the funds not being delivered.

Mr Ban warned that Syrians still needed more more commitments from the international community.

He said four out of five Syrians were living in poverty, misery and deprivation and that the country had lost nearly 40 years of human development.

A UN report last week said that about 7.6 million people have been internally displaced because of the fighting in Syria, with another 3.9 million seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.

Organisers this year have set an $8.4bn target for Syria, a sum observers say is highly unlikely to be met.

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