Kuwait aid meet raises $2.4bn for stricken Syrians

The second international donor conference, held in Kuwait, raised one-third of the $6.5bn the UN says is needed this year to meet the growing humanitarian crisis.

The largest donation came from the conference’s host, the emir of Kuwait, who pledged $500m in relief aid, while the US committed $380m. The UAE announced it would provide a further $60m to support Syrian relief efforts, bringing the country’s donations to date to $360m, according to state news agency WAM. Qatar and Saudi Arabia pledged $60m each.

“These pledges prove that the people devastated by this conflict are not forgotten,” UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said. “It is also sending a strong signal to the neighbouring countries that we appreciate their generosity, and that they will not be left to shoulder the burden alone.”

The first Syria international pledging conference in January 2013, also hosted by Kuwait, raised $1.5bn from 43 contributing nations. Only 70 per cent of the money has to date been delivered, according to the UN. Last year’s donations were used to provide urgent assistance, such as emergency food rations, mobile medical care, clean water and sanitation, and basic shelter.

Syria’s three-year civil war has already claimed at least 100,000 lives, with people fleeing the country at a rate of 127,000 a month, according to UN estimates. The aid agency estimates the conflict has rolled back development in Syria by 35 years, with half of the country’s 22.4 million population now living in poverty.

Some 2.3 million citizens are classed as refugees, while a further 9.3 million people are displaced within Syria, lacking access to food, healthcare and education. “The very fabric of the society has unravelled,” said UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos. Nearly one-fifth of schools are damaged or being used as shelters and food is scarce in besieged areas.

Ahead of the pledging conference, the UAE released figures detailing the country’s relief assistance to Syrians during 2012 and 2013. The aid, valued at AED306m ($86m), included food aid, shelter, education schemes and healthcare, extended mainly to Syrian refugees sheltering in Jordan and Lebanon. The largest donor during the two-year period has been the UAE government itself, whose support increased four-fold in 2013 to almost AED255m ($69m). In 2012 the government gave AED52m ($14m) to the Syrian crisis.