DAMASCUS, Syria — International aid to Syrians uprooted by civil war is a "drop in the sea" of what is needed, a top U.N. official said Monday, estimating that five million Syrians have been displaced inside the country.
In addition, 2 million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries, according to U.N. figures. The total, of about 7 million, amounts to nearly one-third of Syria's population.
The funding gaps for the displaced remain wide, with donor countries sending less than one-third the money needed to help those displaced, Tarik Kurdi, the representative of the U.N. refugee agency in Syria, told The Associated Press.
Syria's brutal two-and-a-half-year-old conflict has also claimed more than 100,000 lives, including hundreds who — according to the U.S. — were killed in chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian regime near Damascus on Aug. 21.
Syrian President Bashar Assad's government has denied involvement, instead blaming rebels for the attacks. Neither the U.S. nor the Assad regime has presented proof in public to back up the allegations.
In Washington, President Barack Obama was lobbying Congress to support a military strike to punish the Assad regime for its alleged chemical weapons use. Obama initially seemed poised to launch military action without asking Congress, but over the weekend changed his mind. A vote is expected after Congress returns from summer recess Sept. 7.
On Monday, Obama was to meet with former political rival Sen. John McCain at the White House, hoping the foreign policy hawk will help sell the idea of U.S. military intervention.