U.N. Pleads for Billions to Help Syrian Refugees

Largest funds request ever follows growing refugee crisis in blood-soaked nation.

A Syrian refugee child helps a man to cut wood at a refugee camp near the northern city of Azaz, on the Syria-Turkey border, on Jan.9, 2013.
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Citing intense violence and massive displacement going into the third year of the Syrian civil war, the U.N. issued a worldwide plea for $13 billion to help with its international refugee efforts.

Half of the fundraising goal, $6.5 billion, would go to the Syrian people, still roiled in civil violence since fighting began in March 2011. More than a third of the 22 million Syrians require humanitarian assistance currently, according to the latest U.N. numbers. That could balloon up to three quarters by 2014, the U.N. said Monday.

[PHOTOS: Refugee Crisis Escalating in Syria]

The U.N.'s latest appeal for funds is its largest ever. The international organization routinely issues appeals to request voluntary contributions to bolster operations funded by the regular U.N. budget.

"As we look towards the fourth year of this appalling crisis, its brutal impact on millions of Syrians is testing the capacity of the international community to respond,"said Valerie Amos, undersecretary general for Humanitarian Affairs, according to a U.N. statement.

 

These funds would also go to U.N. programs in the Yemen and the Central African Republic, which has made headlines in recent weeks for gruesome sectarian violence.

Amos said 2014 is going to be "a very challenging year for us" amid other projects in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Myanmar (also known as Burma), Palestine, Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan.

"It is critically important that humanitarian organizations are properly in a position to respond," she said.

The Syrian refugee crisis continues to test the limits of neighboring countries, particularly Jordan and Lebanon. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have spilled over the borders into overwhelmed camps, now trying to keep the crowded masses warm during a cold winter.

Within Syria, millions remain displaced from their homes.

[READ: Syrian Air Force Drops 'Barrel Bombs' on Civilians, Killing 76]

Starvation continues to be a problem within Syria, where the price of bread has risen as much as 500 percent, according to a report from the International Rescue Committee, BBC reported.

Roughly one-third of the funds appeal for Syria would go those who have remained in their home country, and the rest to refugees elsewhere.

Amos recounted to the BBC conversations she has had with Syrians refugees who ask her, "Why has the world abandoned us?"

"That's how Syrians who have fled as refugees feel," she said.

The U.S. announced last week it would cease giving non-lethal aid to the Syrian rebel forces, citing concerns over a growing extremist element within their ranks.

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