Unicef warns of a lost generation of young Syrians
The United Nations has launched the largest appeal in its history – seeking $5bn (£3.2bn; 3.7bn euros) for humanitarian aid to Syria.
The UN estimates more than 10 million Syrians – half the population – will need help by the end of the year.
As many as four million children are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, the UN’s children’s agency Unicef says.
UN humanitarian officials have admitted they may struggle to raise the record sums they are now asking for.
Governments were criticised for being slow to commit funds to the previous UN target of $1.5bn for the first six months of this year, the BBC’s Nick Childs says.
UN officials say most of that money – $1.2bn – has now been committed, he adds.
But, in Geneva on Friday, the UN said it had revised up the amount of funding needed because of the worsening security situation in Syria.
It expects the number of refugees – currently more than 1.5 million – to leap to nearly 3.5 million by the end of 2013.
Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told a news conference that refugee camps were currently receiving 7,000 new arrivals every day – putting huge pressure on Syria’s neighbours.
“Funding Syria’s humanitarian needs is a matter not only of generosity but enlightened self interest,” he said.
Within Syria itself, UN officials estimate that nearly seven million people will be dependent on aid, having been forced to flee their homes.
Many of those within Syria have already suffered or witnessed appalling violence, lost family members and are living without food, shelter, medical care and schooling.
Unicef is warning of a lost generation of young Syrians.
The $5bn sought by the UN would cover only the most basic needs of people until the end of this year.
Aid workers say that, even if the fighting were to stop tomorrow, Syria and its people would still need years to recover