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NGOs make $400m ‘pledge’ for Syrians

KUWAIT CITY, Jan 14, (Agencies): Charity organisations pledged $400 million (292 million euros) Tuesday to help alleviate the humanitarian plight of Syrians affected by their country’s civil war, participants at a meeting of charitable NGOs said. Kuwait’s International Islamic Charitable Organisation said Kuwaiti charities pledged $142 million, while dozens of NGOs attending the meeting promised the rest. The funds will target people inside and outside Syria, where more than 130,000 people have been killed and millions displaced during the 34- month conflict, IICO said in a statement cited by the KUNA news agency. At a similar meeting last year NGOs pledged $182 million for Syrian refugees. Tuesday’s gathering came a day before the Second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria, which aims to raise $6.5 billion for more than 13.4 million Syrians facing extreme conditions inside the country and in neighbouring nations.

The United Nations has described the appeal as the largest ever in its history for a single humanitarian emergency. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon will chair the one-day ministerial-level meeting, which will be opened by HH the Amir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah. Around 69 countries and 24 international organisations are attending. The UN has said it needs $2.3 billion to support 9.3 million people inside Syria and $4.2 billion for refugees, expected to nearly double to 4.1 million by year’s end. Ahead of his arrival in Kuwait, Ban warned that the humanitarian situation in Syria has been deteriorating and called on donor nations to help meet the target. At the first donors conference in Kuwait last January, participating nations pledge $1.5 billion, 75 percent of which was delivered, according to a Kuwaiti official. Aid agencies say 10.5 million Syrians are food insecure or severely food insecure, over a million children under five suffer from acute or severe malnutrition, about half the population has no access to adequate water sources or sanitation facilities and 8.6 million have insufficient access to health care.

Lebanon is currently hosting the largest number of refugees with 905,000, followed by Jordan with 575,000, Turkey 562,000, Iraq 216,000 and Egypt 145,000. By the end of 2014, these numbers are estimated to rise to 1.65 million in Lebanon, 800,000 in Jordan, 1.0 million in Turkey, 400,000 in Iraq and 250,000 in Egypt. Two Kuwaiti charities have vowed to do all in their power to help alleviate the suffering of the civil conflict-traumatized Syrians. Member of the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society Ibrahim Al-Alyat told KUNA that his society will intensify efforts to raise more donations to secure safe housing for Syrian refugees in neighboring countries, provide them with their basic needs, mainly food and clothes and monthly subsistence. He added that the society will continue offering care for orphans, stationaries and school bags to students. It also plans to set up a number of hospitals and schools to serve the refugees.

He disclosed that the society had erected three small refugee camps inside Syria — each houses 100 Syrian refugees — two other camps in Lebanon, housing projects for refugees in Jordan and a medical compound in Turkey. The society had repaired and reopened several hospitals in the opposition-held areas and is paying the salaries of their staff. Moreover, he said the society offered direct financial aid affected Syrians from January 2013 till now, amounted to KD 2.63 million. He expressed his appreciation of the initiative of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al -Sabah to host the 2nd international donors conference for Syria, on January 15, to support humanitarian work in Syria.

Meanwhile, Jamal Abdulkhaleq Al- Nouri, of Abdullah Al-Nouri Charity Association, also promised to continue efforts to help Syrians in their plight. He told KUNA that his association has distributed 650 tons of dates to the displaced Syrians in 2013 and plans to take the amount up to 4,000 tons in 2014. The association has offered Syrian refugees aid at a total value of USD six million since the beginning of the crisis, Al-Nouri said. He stressed that Kuwait is one of the biggest supporters of the Syrian people in their ordeal. He expressed hopes the 2nd donors conference would prove successful in raising the required donations to provide the desperate Syrians with their needs.

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