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Syria

International leaders meet $1.5 bn Syrian refugee aid target

World leaders at a conference in Kuwait have met their target pledge of $1.5 billion (1.1 billion euros) to Syrian refugees. Meanwhile, UN chief Ban Ki-moon called on the Syrian government to bring an end to the war.

The UN-sponsored conference, which was being held in Kuwait City, announced on Wednesday afternoon that it had raised its target goal of monetary aid for those affected by the Syrian civil war.

Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates said they would each give $300 million in aid to help alleviate the needs of Syrians who have fled into neighboring countries. An additional $300 million was pledged by the United States and European Union.

A spokesman for the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces told the news agency DPA that distributing the monetary aid to those in need posed a great problem.

"The pledges are a very positive step, but we need to have details and assurances that the money would reach some 5 million Syrians who need the assistance," said National Coalition spokesman Walid al-Buni.

The civil war, which began nearly two years ago as a peaceful uprising and then quickly escalated into an armed conflict between Syrian President Bashar Assad's government and opposition forces, has displaced several million within the country. An estimated 700,000 have been driven into neighboring Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.

King Abdullah II of Jordan underscored the importance of ensuring the proper disbursement of aid to those countries providing shelter to Syrians.

"We have reached the end of the line, we have exhausted our resources," he told the conference.

Harsh winter weather in recent weeks has further aggravated the humanitarian crisis, in which fuel, food and medicine shortages already plagued the displaced and refugee populations.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon told the gathering that monetary assistance alone could not improve the situation long term, nor could it end the "unrelenting horrors" unleashed by the armed conflict which has left over 60,000 dead, according to UN estimates.

"We can't disappoint the Syrian people…we need a political solution because humanitarian assistance alone can't end the Syrian crisis," Ban told the conference.

The violence has shown no signs of stopping. On Tuesday, there were reports of at least 65 bodies found in Aleppo. They were believed to have been executed, though it was unclear by whom.

"I appeal to all sides and particularly the Syrian government to stop the killing ... in the name of humanity, stop the killing, stop the violence."

kms/dr (AFP, KNA, Reuters, dpa)