KUWAIT - The head of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) opposition group urged wealthy Gulf Arab states on Tuesday to set up an aid fund for millions of Syrians stricken by civil war.
Well over 100,000 people have been killed in the two-year conflict between President Bashar Assad and rebels. The United Nations says about 6.5 million people have fled their homes within Syria and 2.3 million sought refuge abroad.
SNC chief Ahmed Jarba issued the plea at a high-profile summit in Kuwait of leaders of the six Gulf Arab monarchies.
"The first step of aid is to support our people now with an aid fund ... and that will be under the supervision and management of the Syrian National Coalition," he said.
"You know the size of the tragedy for the refugees and the displaced people inside and outside of Syria." Kuwait's emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, took up Jarba's appeal.
"(A) human catastrophe is still ongoing in Syria which calls on us to redouble our efforts and work with the international community, particularly the U.N. Security Council which unfortunately has remained unable to play its role and put an end to this human catastrophe," the emir said.
Donor countries meeting in Kuwait in January pledged more than $1.5 billion for Syrians affected by the civil war, with about $1 billion earmarked for other countries in the region hosting refugees and $500 million for humanitarian aid to Syrians displaced inside the country.
The oil-producing Gulf Arab states of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates each promised $300 million at the January meeting. Qatar later pledged $100 million in aid.
Kuwait will host a second fund-raising conference next month.