UN presses need for major boost in Syrian aid

KUWAIT CITY: U.N. humanitarian officials led by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon are urging for a major boost in relief aid for Syria at an international conference in Kuwait that includes both foes and backers of President Bashar Assad.

Representatives from more than 60 countries gathered on Wednesday to hear U.N. appeals to pledge up to $1.5 billion to help Syrians caught in the civil war and an estimated 700,000 refugees in neighboring countries such as Jordan and Turkey.

U.N. officials say they only have a fraction of the money needed, though international pledges increased shortly before the Kuwait conference. The European Union and the U.S. promised a total nearly $400 million on Tuesday.

Significant pledges from Gulf nations are also expected. The gathering also includes envoys from Russia and Iran, key Assad supporters.