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Kuwait Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah (C) stands with heads of states and delegates at the opening of the International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria at the Bayan Palace in Kuwait City yesterday.
KUWAIT: Donor countries have pledged more than $1.5bn to aid Syrians stricken by civil war, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said yesterday after warning that the conflict had wrought a catastrophic humanitarian crisis.
In a pointed message for Syria’s leader, Ban told a fund-raising conference that President Bashar Al Assad bore primary responsibility to stop his country’s suffering after nearly two years of conflict that have cost an estimated 60,000 lives.
“Every day Syrians face unrelenting horrors,” Ban told the gathering in Kuwait, adding these included sexual violence and arbitrary killings. Sixty-five people were shot dead execution-style in Aleppo on Tuesday, opposition activists said.
“We cannot go on like this.... He should listen to the voices and cries of so many people,” Ban said.
“I appeal to all sides and particularly the Syrian government to stop the killing ... in the name of humanity, stop the killing, stop the violence.”
Ban said the one-day conference had exceeded the target of $1.5bn in pledges. About $1bn is earmarked for Syria’s neighbours hosting refugees and $500m for humanitarian aid to Syrians displaced inside the country.
The $500m would be channelled through UN partner agencies in Syria and the entire aid pledge would cover the next six months, Ban said.
But in the Syrian capital Damascus, the thud of artillery drowned out any optimism on the streets. Asked about the aid promises, Damascenes were uninterested or despairing.
“Where’s the money going to go to? How does anyone know where it’s going? It all seems like talk,” said Faten, a grandmother from a middle-class family in the capital.
Another middle-class Damascene, a woman in her 70s who asked not to be named, said the money would not make it to Syrians. “Tomorrow all that money will get stolen. (The middlemen) steal everything. If they could steal people’s souls, they would. I wouldn’t count on the money,” she said. Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates each promised $300m at the meeting. REUTERS