KUWAIT CITY — Kuwait, the United States and other donor nations have so far promised more than $1.2 billion of new funding to alleviate the suffering of Syrians affected by their country's civil war at the start of an international fundraising conference Wednesday that aid officials hope will help cover billions of dollars needed this year.
Millions of Syrians have been driven from their homes as a result of the crisis, now in its third year, and getting aid to many of those in need remains a challenge because they remain trapped in communities besieged by the fighting.
The United Nations is asking for a staggering $6.5 billion this year to help Syrians affected by the war, its largest-ever funding appeal for a single crisis. Officials don't expect to raise the entire amount in Kuwait but do hope the gathering focuses greater international attention on the conflict.
Kuwait's emir, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, opened the conference by pledging $500 million, significantly topping the OPEC member nation's pledge of $300 million last year.
Nearby Qatar also promised $60 million Wednesday.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. pledge of $380 million will raise America's humanitarian aid contribution to Syrian victims to $1.7 billion since the war began.