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UN seeks $5.2 bn for Syria in peace appeal

The United Nations launched its biggest humanitarian appeal ever on Friday to help millions of Syrians suffering the effects of a conflict that has dragged on for more than two years with no end in sight.
UN aid agencies and independent relief organisations need $5.2 billion to fund their operations in Syria and neighbouring countries until the end of the year, the global body said.

The figure presented at an international conference in Geneva represents a sharp increase from the $3 billion the global body had previously estimated it would need this year, of which only $1.4 billion has so far been pledged.

‘The situation has deteriorated drastically,’ said Valerie Amos, the UN’s top humanitarian official, according to a draft copy of her speech to diplomats at the conference. ‘The crisis has intensified and spread into most parts of Syria.’

Late last year the U.N. estimated that 4 million people needed aid inside Syria, a figure that has now grown to nearly 7 million. Meanwhile, the flood of refugees to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt has swelled to over 1.5 million. Syria’s pre-war population was estimated at about 22 million.

‘The human misery behind those figures is horrific and tragic,’ said Amos, citing the toll of more than 80,000 deaths since the uprising against Bashar Assad began in March 2011. ‘It’s estimated that two years of conflict have set back Syria’s development by two decades,’ she added.

The global body said $2.98 billion was needed to help people who have fled Syria, and $1.4 billion to pay for aid operations inside the country. Food and medicine are particularly urgent. Many farmers in Syria are unable to tend their fields and the price of basic goods has risen steadily in recent months. The World Food Program said it plans to provide assistance to 4 million people inside Syria by September - in addition to more than 2 million refugees in neighboring countries - for which it needs $1 billion this year.
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