UN agencies seek $9bln for Syria aid

U.N. says people displaced within Syria "have exhausted their savings and resources"

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The United Nations is seeking more than $8.4 billion for next year to help nearly 18 million people affected by the war in Syria.

The U.N. high commissioner for refugees, Antonio Guterres, said Thursday that people who have been displaced within Syria “have exhausted their savings and resources” while nearby countries faced with a refugee influx “are at breaking point.”

Some $2.9 billion of next year’s requested funding is aimed at addressing needs inside Syria, giving aid and shelter to 12.2 million people.

The U.N. wants $5.5 billion to help refugees outside Syria and bolster host countries. The aim is to help nearly 6 million people in total and it’s working on projections that there will be up to 4.27 million refugees in countries neighboring Syria in a year’s time.

In a related development the United Nations children agency UNICEF, said on Thursday it needs more than $900 million to help children affected by Syria’s civil war next year and appealed to donors for support.

“The Syria crisis represents the biggest threat to children of recent times,” UNICEF’s regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, Maria Calivis, said ahead of the launch of a major U.N. appeal for Syrian refugees in Berlin later Thursday.

“By the end of 2015, the lives of over 8.6 million children across the region will have been torn apart by violence and forced displacement,” she said.

Calivis said the agency’s plans for next year include doubling both the number of Syrian children with access to safe water and sanitation, and the number with access to education.

UNICEF will continue vaccination campaigns against polio, she said, and deliver care including cash grants and winter clothing to the families of some 850,000 children affected by the conflict.

“These commitments -- cost at $903 million -- represent the bare minimum,” she said, calling on supporters “to help us make these commitments a reality”.

Syria’s conflict, which evolved from mass demonstrations against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to a civil war that has left more than 200,000 dead, has forced more than half the population to flee their homes.

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