UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon late Friday expressed his gratitude to Kuwait for agreeing to host a donor conference for Syrians' humanitarian needs and for its recent generous pledge of USD 20 million for the humanitarian appeals for Syria, KUNA reported.
"The Secretary-General is particularly grateful for the generosity of the Government of Kuwait for agreeing to host the conference and for its recent pledge of USD 20 million for the humanitarian response in Syria," his spokesman Martin Nesirky said in a statement.
He announced that on 30 January 2013, the Secretary-General will chair a high-level International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria in Kuwait City, describing it as a "timely and much-needed opportunity to address the funding gap." He said Ban reiterates that the international community "must do more" to alleviate the suffering of millions of people in Syria and the neighbouring countries, and "urges all Member States to be generous in their pledges and is thankful to those who continue to support the humanitarian efforts." He added that the Secretary-General is "extremely concerned about the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria," where more than 5 million people urgently need help. As a consequence of this situation, over 2 million people have been displaced inside the country and more than 540,000 Syrians have fled to neighbouring countries.
He recalled that the UN Refugee Agency has warned that the number of Syrian refugees could double to 1.1 million by June 2013. This winter, many families are struggling to keep warm, without adequate shelter, warm clothes and heating fuel. Children make up more than 50 per cent of the civilians affected by the crisis. He noted that despite the growing needs, the Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan (SHARP) and the regional Refugee Response Plan (RRP) for 2012 are underfunded, limiting the ability of UN agencies and their humanitarian partners to reach people who desperately need help. The revised plans, he noted, now require more than USD 1.5 billion to cover the most urgent humanitarian needs during the first half of 2013.