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Middle east

Aid pledge falls short of Syrian humanitarian needs

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-01-15

An international donors' conference in Kuwait has raised less than half the funds the UN says it needs to assist civilians hit by the war in Syria, while an attack linked to in-fighting between rebel factions kills scores of fighters near Aleppo.

Western and Gulf Arab nations pledged more than $2.4 billion on Wednesday January 15 for UN aid efforts in Syria, where a near three-year civil war has left millions of people hungry, ailing or displaced.

The pledge arose from a UN appeal for $6.5 billion in 2014, which was launched last month and is the largest in the organisation's history.

The world body estimates the conflict has reversed development gains in Syria by 35 years, with half its people now living in poverty.

But only around 70 percent of $1.5 billion pledged at a similar meeting last year has reached UN coffers, hinting at donor fatigue with no end to the bloodshed on the horizon.

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said all sides in the conflict had shown "total disregard for their responsibilities under international humanitarian and human rights law".

"Children, women, men are trapped, hungry, ill, losing hope," Amos told the 69 countries attending a donor conference held in Kuwait.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who chaired the conference, said: "I am especially concerned that the sides are using violence against women and girls to denigrate and dehumanise their opponents. I call for an immediate end to these abuses, which harm individuals and undermine Syria's future.”

Car bomb attack kills at least 26

Ban told the gathering he hoped peace talks due to start in Switzerland on January 22 would bring the Syrian government and opposition to the negotiating table - although Assad's adversaries are deeply split over whether to attend.

The divisions within the Syrian opposition were illustrated by a car-bomb attack that killed at least 26 people on Wednesday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.

The attack struck the Aleppo province town of Jarablos, scene of fierce fighting in recent days between the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and rival rebels.

Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP it was likely the incident "was a suicide attack staged by ISIL", adding that it came after jihadists lost turf to rival rebels in the town.

"Two car bomb attacks struck Jarablos, one near the agriculture school, the other near the prison," said Nazeer al-Khatib, a citizen journalist with grassroots network Shahba Press.

Both sites were being used as bases by rebels fighting ISIL, said Khatib.

Ban urged the opposition forces to come to next week’s Geneva talks with a united delegation.

He said organisers had not been able to finalise whether Iran, Syria's Shi'ite Muslim ally, would take part.

(France 24 with AFP, Reuters)

Date created : 2014-01-15

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