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Britain pledges extra $1.75 bln for Syria before donor conference

U.N. agencies are appealing for $7.73 billion to cope with the disaster this year, with a further $1.2 billion needed to fund national response plans

Published: Updated:

Britain pledged on Thursday to spend an additional 1.2 billion pounds ($1.75 billion) on aid for Syrians by 2020, seeking to build momentum for a donor conference that the United Nations hopes will raise more than $7 billion for this year alone.

With Syria’s five-year-old civil war raging and U.N.-mediated peace talks in Geneva halted after just a few days amid acrimony between government and opposition negotiators, the one-day London conference will try to tackle dire humanitarian needs.

The war has killed an estimated 250,000 people and driven millions from their homes, with 6 million Syrians displaced within the country and more than 4 million others having left for Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and beyond.

U.N. agencies are appealing for $7.73 billion to cope with the disaster this year, with a further $1.2 billion needed to fund national response plans by countries in the region.

For European nations, improving the humanitarian situation in Syria and neighboring countries is seen as critical to reduce incentives for Syrians to travel to Europe, where a huge refugee crisis has put many countries under severe strain.

“We can provide the sense of hope needed to stop people thinking they have no option but to risk their lives on a dangerous journey to Europe,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said in a statement announcing the new pledge.