The United Nations appealed for a record $6.5 billion for Syria and its neighbors on Monday to help 16 million people, many of them hungry or homeless victims of a conflict that has lasted 33 months with no end in sight.
The Syrian appeal accounted for half of an overall funding plan of $12.9 billion for 2014 to help 52 million people in 17 countries, announced by UN emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos at a meeting of donor countries in Geneva.
“This is the largest amount we have ever had to request at the start of the year,” Amos told a news conference, referring to the worldwide appeal.
The money requested for Syria, covering food, drinking water, shelter, education, health services and polio vaccines, was the largest UN appeal ever for a single crisis.
Well over 100,000 people have been killed in a civil war that has uprooted millions of people, devastated many cities and wreaked havoc on the economy and basic public services.
Syria’s currency has plummeted by 80 percent since the revolt began in March 2011, and destruction of the water network has left 10 million people – almost half the pre-war population – relying on the United Nations to chlorinate water.
“There are parts of country where for 22-23 hours a day people aren’t getting electricity. Fuel is scarce,” said Amos, who visited Damascus briefly on Saturday to meet ministers.
“Even if the violence were to stop tomorrow we would have to maintain help on the humanitarian front,” she said.
The UN Security Council issued a presidential statement on October 2 calling for protection of civilians, demilitarization of schools and hospitals, and improved access for aid workers.