By Ahmed Hagagy
Kuwait will donate $500 million towards easing Syria’s humanitarian crisis, its leader told an international summit in the Kuwaiti capital on Tuesday.
“I am pleased to announce the pledge by the state of Kuwait of $500 million from the government and private sectors to support the humanitarian situation for the brotherly Syrian people,” Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah said in a speech broadcast live on state television.
The United Nations, which is holding the summit, says aid is needed to help 18 million people both in Syria and scattered through the region, as well as the countries and communities struggling to host them.
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 2011 and spiralled into full-scale civil war. The number of people needing humanitarian aid has increased by 2.9 million in just 10 months.
Nearly 80 governments and dozens of aid agencies are meeting in Kuwait for the UN summit. They hope to collect major pledges towards an $8.4 billion appeal for Syria.
Although the response to the first annual conference in Kuwait in 2013 exceeded the $1.5 billion requested, last year’s conference only secured pledges of $2.4 billion towards a $6.5 billion appeal.