* Seeks to help 4 million in country and 1 million refugees
* "No more safe areas" in Syria, U.N. aid coordinator says
* WFP feeding 1.5 mln in Syria each month but constraints
By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA, Dec 19 The United Nations appealed on
Wednesday for $1.5 billion to help save the lives of millions of
Syrians suffering a "dramatically deteriorating" humanitarian
The twin appeals are for $519.6 million to help 4 million
people within Syria and $1 billion to meet the needs of up to 1
million Syrian refugees in five other countries until July 2013.
The United Nations said they comprised the "largest
short-term humanitarian appeal ever", but still fell some way
short of a comprehensive relief plan.
"The violence in Syria is raging across the country and
there are nearly no more safe areas where people can flee and
find safety," Radhouane Nouicer, U.N. regional humanitarian
coordinator for Syria, told a news briefing in Geneva.
Noting that Syria's capital Damascus was the scene of "daily
shelling and bombing", he added: "It is a realistic appeal that
takes into consideration what we commit ourselves to achieve. It
is not a comprehensive response plan, it is limited to what we
can do in such a difficult operating environment."
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on countries to
respond generously to the appeals presented to donor governments
in Geneva as winter takes hold in the region.
"I'm considering convening an international donor
conference, in close coordination with key partners, early next
year," he told reporters in New York.
FOOD, MEDICINE, SANITATION
Inside Syria, U.N. agencies aim to help 4 million people in
need of urgent humanitarian assistance, including an estimated 2
million displaced from their homes by fighting between President
Bashar al-Assad's forces and rebels trying to topple him.
The plan provides for food, shelter and bedding, water and
sanitation, emergency medical services, clothes, kitchen sets
and baby supplies for beleaguered civilians in all 14 provinces.
The U.N.'s World Food Programme (WFP) is reaching 1.5
million Syrians inside the country with food rations each month,
but said it faces increasing constraints, including mounting
insecurity and fuel shortages.
"Food processing, milling, bakeries rely on fuel electricity
to produce a bread product. And of course we are dealing with a
largely urbanised population here, so naturally any interruption
of that infrastructure is going to be cause for concern," said
David Kaatrud, WFP director of emergencies.
More than 525,000 Syrian refugees have already been
registered abroad and the latest estimate is that up to 1
million refugees in five countries, including Egypt for the
first time, will need help in the first half of 2013, the U.N.
refugee agency said.
WHOLE VILLAGES FLEE
There are already more than 10,400 Syrian refugees
registered in Egypt, but the government estimates that there are
tens of thousands who have not sought assistance yet, it said.
"The grim situation inside Syria has a direct impact on
refugee outflows to the neighbouring countries," Panos Moumtzis,
UNHCR regional refugee coordinator, told the briefing.
"I just came from the borders where I was shocked again one
more time to hear the horrific stories that refugees tell us
about their experiences - fleeing violence, fleeing insecurity.
We're talking about women and children, entire villages that are
uprooted and flee to safety to the neighbouring countries."
More than half of the Syrians affected by the 20-month
conflict, both inside the country and in surrounding countries,
are children under the age of 18, according to UNICEF.
"This represents children whose future is in jeopardy,
children who are missing out on school, newborns who are
threatened because they don't receive the life-saving vaccines
and children who are severely affected because of the violence
and trauma they are exposed to," said Maria Calivis, UNICEF
regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.
"One of things that children ask for most, whether in camps
or in displaced facilities within Syria, is schooling. This has
been repeated to us over and over again. What children miss most
is the opportunity to continue their schooling, no matter what