UN seeks $13b in humanitarian aid to help Syria, 23 other countries

BRASILIA (AFP) - The United Nations (UN) and humanitarian agencies are seeking US$10.4 billion (S$13 billion) in aid to assist millions people in Syria and 23 other countries, a top UN official said here on Tuesday.

"We and our humanitarian partners are seeking US$10.4 billion this year to help more than 57 million people in 24 countries with some of the world's most pressing crises," Ms Valerie Amos, the visiting UN emergency relief coordinator, said.

"We need donors to give generously and urgently," she added.

The world body is notably appealing for donations for Syria, Mali, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Just in Syria four million people are in need of assistance and more than 1.4 billion are required for the next four months, Ms Amos, the UN under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs, said.

"In the last year alone, I visited more than 40 countries from Syria to Sudan, DR Congo, Niger, Afghanistan and Myanmar, and saw and heard for myself the terrible conditions that families face and their harrowing stories," she noted.

Last year, the UN and its partners were able to collect only of US$5.5 billion of the US$8.9 billion sought, according to the study "2013 Global Humanitarian Action".

Ms Amos hailed Brazil's growing international aid contribution in the past years, with a record US$50 million donation in 2012 to assist people affected by crises around the world.

She also praised the country's role in Haiti, where Brasilia has contributed more than US$21 million since the 2010 earthquake that killed 220,000 people and left two million homeless.

Brazil currently maintains 1,910 troops in Haiti as part of the UN peacekeeping contingent.

Ms Amos said 14 other Latin American countries, including Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Colombia, have also contributed to the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund.

The UN humanitarian chief held talks in Brasilia with Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota and also plans to confer with Health Minister Alexandre Padilha and Defense Minister Celso Amorim.