Kuwait pledges $300 million in Syria aid at donor meeting

KUWAIT Wed Jan 30, 2013 3:58am EST

Kuwait Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah smiles ahead of the opening ceremony of the International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria at Bayan Palace on the outskirts of Kuwait City January 30, 2013. REUTERS/Stephanie McGehee

Kuwait Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah smiles ahead of the opening ceremony of the International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria at Bayan Palace on the outskirts of Kuwait City January 30, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Stephanie McGehee

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Kuwait's emir pledged on Wednesday to give $300 million to help fund humanitarian efforts for millions of Syrians affected by nearly two years of conflict.

Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah told a meeting targeting potential donors that "horrifying reports" of violence had raised questions over the future of Syria and aid efforts had to be redoubled.

Wednesday's conference will seek pledges of $1 billion of aid for Syria's neighbors, who are sheltering 700,000 registered refugees, and another $500 million to bankroll humanitarian work for 4 million Syrians inside the country.

The aid would fund operations for the first half of this year, but the United Nations has so far received pledges covering just 18 percent of the target, unveiled last month as the scale of Syria's humanitarian crisis escalated sharply.

"We have every reason to be optimistic that there will a very good presence and new pledges that will be coming up at this conference," Robert Watkins, U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Lebanon, told Reuters.

Lebanon has seen the biggest influx of refugees from the Syrian bloodshed.

U.S. President Barack Obama has announced an additional $155 million in humanitarian aid for Syria, bringing the total U.S. contribution to some $365 million, the State Department said

(Reporting by Sylvia Westall; writing by William Maclean; editing by Patrick Graham)

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