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9.3 million people in Syria urgently need humanitarian aid: UN chief

9.3 million people in Syria urgently need humanitarian aid: UN chief

PanARMENIAN.Net - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says that half of Syria's population, some 9.3 million people, now "urgently need humanitarian aid". He was speaking at a donor conference in Kuwait launching the UN's biggest ever appeal for a single crisis, BBC News reports.

The UN is seeking $6.5bn - it raised $2.4bn by the end of Wednesday, Jan 15.

Meanwhile, Syria's deputy foreign minister has said Western intelligence agencies have held talks with Damascus on combating Islamist groups in Syria.

The growing influence of such groups among rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad has complicated the conflict and caused international concern.

The UK government denied having any such cooperation with Damascus.

Ban said the conflict had "set back Syria years, even decades". He expressed particular concern about violence against women and girls, and reports of starvation among besieged communities.

"No country, no people should face hardship or calamity for helping Syrians in need. It is vital for this region and our world that the burden is shared," he said.

Some 6.5 million people are now displaced inside Syria. More than 2.3 million have registered as refugees outside Syria, many living in camps across the region which are barely coping.

The UN says more than 100,000 people have died since the uprising began in 2011.

By late on Wednesday, the conference had secured $2.4bn in pledges, including: Kuwait: $500mln; Saudi Arabia: $250mln; Qatar: $60mln; US: $380mln in new contributions; EU countries as a whole: $753mln; Norway: $75mln; The UK pledged a further $164mln bringing its total contribution to $985m

Those pledges represent roughly a third of the amount the UN says it needs.

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"The necessary funds are and will continue being allocated, including those for the purchase of new modern weapons," he said.
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