Omar Hasan, AFP
Last updated: 30 January, 2013

Donors pledge $1 billion as UN warns of Syria catastrophe

International donors at a Kuwait conference on Wednesday pledged more than the targeted $1.5 billion in aid for stricken Syrians, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said.

“I am pleased to announce that pledges have exceeded the target… more than $1.5 billion have been pledged including the $184 million pledged by non-governmental organisations,” Ban told a news conference.

“The exact amount of the pledges are being calculated,” said the secretary general, adding: “This is the largest humanitarian conference in the history of the United Nations.”

Kuwait’s deputy foreign minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled al-Sabah said that “the door is open for countries that have not donated to do so”.

The conference opened with a pledge worth $300 million from Kuwait, followed by similar promises from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Its initial aim was raising pledges of about $1.5 billion to provide aid to an estimated five million people affected by Syria’s 22-month conflict.

Ban said the United Nations would ensure the funds were used in the most effective way, adding the international community had sent the Syrian people a message that they “are not alone”.

The UN chief appealed to the two sides to stop fighting and killing, insisting there was “no military solution to this crisis… there must a political solution”.