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World giving Syria regime licence to kill says Ban Ki-moon

The U.N. chief also appealed for a major boost in international relief aid for Syria.

Ban Ki-Moon confers with colleagues during the opening of the International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria in Kuwait today.
Ban Ki-Moon confers with colleagues during the opening of the International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria in Kuwait today.
Image: (AP Photo/Gustavo Ferrari)

THE U.N. CHIEF Ban Ki-moon appealed for a major boost in international relief aid for Syria and called for the fighting to end “in the name of humanity” even as more refugees poured into neighbouring Jordan and its leader warned resources were strained to the limit.

The U.N.’s call for up to $1.5 billion in humanitarian assistance at an international conference in Kuwait reflects the deepening civilian crisis inside Syria and the civil war’s increasing spillover around the region.

Jordan’s economic council said the kingdom had spent more than $833 million on aid for refugees — accounting for nearly half the estimated 700,000 people who have fled Syria — and that it was unable to sustain a financial burden that has so far siphoned off about 3 per cent of its GDP.

Some U.N. officials say the refugee figures could approach 1 million later this year if the conflict in Syria does not ease.

A Syrian refugee stands on top of a water tank at Zaatari refugee camp, near the Syrian border in Mafraq, Jordan. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon, File)

Speaking at the U.N.-led gathering in Kuwait, Jordan’s King Abdullah II said sheltering and assisting the refugee wave is above the country’s “capacity and potential.”

Last week, the king used the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to amplify his appeal for international help as “the weakest refugees are struggling now just to survive this year’s harsh winter” and more cross the Syria-Jordan border at up to 3,000 a day.

In his opening remarks, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon urged all sides “and particularly the Syrian government” to halt attacks in the 22-month-old civil war that the U.N. says has claimed more than 60,000 lives.

Aid officials estimate that more than 2 million Syrians have been uprooted or are suffering inside the country as the civil war widens – including what peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi called “unprecedented levels of horror” in an address to the U.N. Security Council after at least 65 bodies were found yesterday in a suspected execution-style killing near Aleppo.

A Syrian refugee woman, removes her laundry from the ground at a temporary refugee in Lebanon. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)

Before the latest donors’ conference, Ban described the international humanitarian response to Syria as “very much limited”.

Ban described the situation in Syria as “catastrophic and getting worse by the day.”

He listed a “cascading catalogue of horrors” facing Syrians, including shortages of food and medicine and abuses such as “sexual violence and arbitrary arrests and detention.”

While international aid channels are open to refugee camps in places such as Turkey and Jordan, there is far more limited capacity to organise relief efforts inside Syria because of the fighting and obstacles from Assad’s regime.

Paris-based Medecins Sans Frontieres said the U.N. and others need to open more routes for aid to reach rebel-held areas, which now receive only a “tiny share” of international humanitarian help”.

- AP

Read: A further €4.7 million in Irish Aid pledged for humanitarian crisis in Syria >

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Associated Press

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