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International pledges for Syrian humanitarian aid reach $2.4 billion

  |   Jan. 15, 2014 at 4:30 PM
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KUWAIT CITY, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- International pledges for humanitarian aid to Syria exceed $2.4 billion, a Kuwaiti official said at the close of a donor conference Wednesday in Kuwait City.

Sheik Sabah al-Khaled al-Sabah, Kuwait's foreign minister and first deputy prime minister, noted 62 nations, 14 United Nations relief agencies and four regional non-government organizations took part in the conference.

The Kuwaiti government will provide $500 million to the cause, the Kuwait news agency KUNA reported Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar each pledged $60 million, the New York Times said.

The United States will provide an additional $380 million, Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday.

Kerry warned the aid wouldn't be sufficient unless Syrian President Bashar Assad stopped "using starvation as a weapon of war" and allowed international aid to reach the besieged areas, the New York Times reported.

The pledges came as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the conference in Kuwait $6.5 billion was needed for medical care, food, water and shelter for Syrian refugees and internally displaced civilians through the year.

On Monday, Kerry and Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said pressuring the Syrian government and opposition leaders to allow humanitarian aid into the areas where it is needed would be a key goal of the peace conference on Syria that starts Jan. 22 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The United Nations estimated 6.5 million Syrians have been internally displaced while more than 2.3 million have fled the country.

The pledge by Kerry raised the United States' financial commitment to more than $1.7 billion in humanitarian aid since the civil war began, the Times said.

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