UN launches record $5.2 billion Syria aid appeal

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The United Nations on Friday launched a record $5.2 billion aid appeal to fund operations in Syria and neighboring nations, saying the number of people affected by the country's brutal conflict was set to spiral.

The sum by far overshadows the $2.2 billion the UN sought in 2003 to help cope with the crisis sparked by the war in Iraq.

The world body said that a total of $3.8 billion was needed to help Syrian refugees who have spilled across the country's borders to escape fighting in their homeland.

The figure for operations inside Syria meanwhile was $1.4 billion.

More than 94,000 people have been killed and some 1.6 million Syrians have fled the country since the civil war began in March 2011 after a crackdown on protests against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

The number of refugees is expected to reach at least 3.45 million by the end of this year, according to the UN appeal.

Within the country, a total of 6.8 million people are forecast to need aid this year, the majority of them people who have been forced to flee their homes because of the fighting.

“By the end of the year, half of the population of Syria will be in need of aid,” said Adrian Edwards, spokesman for the UN's refugee agency.

Syria’s pre-war population was 20.8 million.

“The figure for the new appeal is both an expression of the alarm about the situation facing Syrians and an absence of a political solution,” Edwards said.

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