At a donors' conference in Berlin, the UN has launched its biggest ever humanitarian appeal for Syria. Billions of dollars in aid is still needed for the millions of displaced people inside and outside the country.
The United Nations is trying to raise $8.4 billion (6.8 billion euros) after only securing half of the funding it asked for this year. For the first time, after nearly four years of war, the appeal includes funding for life-saving food, shelter and other humanitarian aid as well as development support.
UN officials told donors in Berlin on Thursday that the number of people needing humanitarian aid has increased by 2.9 million in just 10 months. "Syria's war is still escalating and the humanitarian situation is becoming protracted. Refugees and internally displaced people have exhausted their savings and resources and host countries are at breaking point," UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres told the meeting.
The UN requested $2.28 billion to help people inside Syria in 2014 but received only 46 percent of the amount. It also asked for $3.74 billion for refugees and received just 57 percent of that sum.
Germany's Development Minister Gerd Müller said: "It is unacceptable that we have to ask the international community month after month to do their part so that people don't have to die in the refugee camps in Jordan, Syria and Iraq."
Germany had previously hosted an international conference on the Syrian refugee crisis in October. This pledged to extend long-term financial aid to countries including Lebanon and Jordan which had taken in Syrian refugees.
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Thursday: "The humanitarian crisis in Syria and the neighbouring countries poses a threat to the stability of the whole region."
"This is a call to the solidarity of all nations, and my country is willing to do its part," Steinmeier added.
Some 200,000 people have died and nearly half the Syrian population has been displaced by the conflict that began with anti-government protests in March 2011.
jm/bw (Reuters, AFP)