Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

U.N. seeks $6.5 billion in aid for Syrians

BEIRUT, Lebanon — With the Syrian humanitarian crisis worsening amid mounting fears of starvation and illness, the United Nations on Monday launched a drive for about $6.5 billion in aid, described as the largest amount ever sought for a single emergency.

Speaking in Geneva, U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, who recently returned from a trip to Syria and Lebanon, cited the plight of "millions of Syrians who are displaced and in urgent need of food, shelter and health care both inside the country and across the region."

Aid agencies are seeking donations from governments, private organizations and individuals.

Last week saw the region's first severe storm of the season, bringing snow and subfreezing temperatures and dramatizing the plight of multitudes living in precarious circumstances as the Syrian conflict enters its third winter.

If the war continues, the number of Syrian refugees is expected to almost double during 2014, to more than 4 million, according to U.N. estimates. Most refugees have resettled in neighboring nations, including Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq, taxing resources and aggravating social and political tensions.

Antonio Guterres, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, described the conflict as one that is "probably the most dangerous for global peace and security since World War II."

Inside Syria, the United Nations says more than 9 million people — more than a third of the population — are in need of assistance, including many forced from their homes by clashes, bombardments and threats.

The 2 1/2-year-old conflict has caused a near-collapse of many basic services inside Syria, especially in contested zones and areas controlled by antigovernment rebels. Relief groups say aid is often held up at Syria's borders or never reaches needy people living in battle zones and besieged communities.

Syria recently experienced its first cases of polio since 1999, an alarming outbreak that has spurred a massive campaign to vaccinate more than 23 million children regionwide against the crippling disease.

Basic medical items such as antibiotics, painkillers and gauze are in short supply in many areas, said the International Rescue Committee, a New York-based aid group. In addition, the group said Syria is now confronting a food crisis, with the cost of staples such as bread skyrocketing and limited access to clean water in many areas.

"Starvation is now threatening large parts of the Syrian population," the group's president, David Miliband, said in a statement. "With polio on the loose and (freezing) weather already here, the people of Syria now face months of more death and despair. We are witnessing a humanitarian catastrophe that is receiving far too little attention and funding around the world."

Valerie Amos, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, discusses humanitarian strategies and requirements.

Associated Press

Valerie Amos, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, discusses humanitarian strategies and requirements.

U.N. seeks $6.5 billion in aid for Syrians 12/16/13 [Last modified: Monday, December 16, 2013 11:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Evening update: Tropical Storm Harvey forms in Atlantic, second wave follows


    UPDATE: At 8 p.m. the National Hurricane Center said a hurricane hunter plane had determined that Tropical Storm Harvey had formed with sustained winds of 40 mph.

    Three tropical waves are expected to strengthen as they move across the Atlantic Ocean. [Courtesy of the National Hurricane Center]
  2. Trump 'beautiful statues' tweets roil Tampa Bay's own Confederate debate


    It started Thursday at 9:07 a.m., as it does so often these days, with a tweet:

    The Memoria in Aeterna Confederate monument stands in front of the old Hillsborough County Courthouse. Hillsborough County Commissioners voted 4-2 last month to move it to a private cemetery in Brandon before voting again this week to put a deadline on a public sector fundraising campaign to pay part of the cost. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Rays waste repeated opportunities in 5-3 loss to Blue Jays

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Rays manager Kevin Cash made a case for urgency before Thursday's game, in both actions and words, making significant changes to the structure of the lineup and sincere comments about time running short.

    Trevor Plouffe of the Rays reacts as he pops out with the bases loaded in the sixth inning. [Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images]
  4. Spanish PM voices solidarity with Barcelona


    BARCELONA, Spain — Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says his country is mourning in solidarity with the city of Barcelona and other cities in Europe that have been hit by deadly extremist attacks.

    An injured person is treated in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 after a white van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists and injuring several people, police said. [Associated Press]
  5. Confederate statue: Why Bucs, Lightning, Rays took a stand


    They didn't want another Charlottesville.

    Marc Rodriguez, a member of the "Florida Fight for $15" organization, stands in protest along with other activists demanding the Confederate  monument be removed from the old Hillsborough County Courthouse in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]