A wounded Syrian child is treated at an Israeli hospital. About 140 Syrians who have been wounded in fighting in neighboring Syria have been treated in Israeli hospitals since the beginning of the Syrian Civil war. (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
Hide Caption

United Nations: 5 million displaced inside Syria

a a a a
Share this story
Show Related Headlines
Related Articles
Obama seeks approval for Syrian strike
Local Syrian-American says US must do something
US has evidence sarin gas was used in Syria
Syrian newspaper calls Obama move a retreat
Obama's credibility on line in reversal on Syria

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.

On Capitol Hill, senior administration officials briefed lawmakers in private on Sunday to explain why the U.S. was compelled to act against Assad. Further meetings were planned from Monday to Wednesday.

The Arab League, meanwhile, stopped short of endorsing military action. In an emergency meeting in Cairo on Sunday, it called on the United Nations and the international community to take "deterrent" measures under international law to stop the Syrian regime's crimes, but could not agree on whether to back U.S. military strikes.

Two of Assad's most influential foreign backers, China and Russia, lined up against Washington's new attempt to make the case for a military strike.

China is "highly concerned" about possible unilateral military action against Syria and believes the international community must "avoid complicating the Syrian issue and dragging the Middle East down into further disaster," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in Beijing on Monday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, meanwhile, dismissed U.S. information given to Moscow on the alleged chemical weapons attack as "absolutely unconvincing."

There was "nothing specific" in the evidence presented by Washington, Lavrov said. "No geographic coordinates, no names, no proof that the tests were carried out by the professionals."

He did not say what tests he was referring to.

Lavrov said U.S. officials told the Russian government they cannot share all the evidence because some of it is classified.

On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. received new physical evidence in the form of blood and hair samples that show sarin gas was used in the Aug. 21 attack.

Kerry said the U.S. must respond with its credibility on the line.

The Syria conflict erupted in March 2011 as an uprising against Assad that quickly transformed into a civil war.

The fighting has displaced 5 million inside Syria, said Kurdi, the U.N. official. In addition, nearly 2 million Syrians have crossed into neighboring countries, previously released U.N. figures show.

Before the outbreak of the conflict, Syria had a population of about 23 million people.

Kurdi said the need for aid is far greater than what the international community has provided so far.

"Whatever efforts we have exerted and whatever the U.N. has provided in humanitarian aid, it is only a drop in the sea of humanitarian needs in Syria," he said. The funding gap "is very, very wide," he added.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Print this article

Comments

Hmm... It looks like you’re not a WCPO Insider. or Subscribe now to contribute!

More World News
13 more bodies found in sunken S. Korean ferry
13 more bodies found in sunken S. Korean ferry

Divers have recovered 10 more bodies from inside the ferry that sank off South Korea. The confirmed death toll is now 46.

Holy fire ceremony draws thousands to Jerusalem
Holy fire ceremony draws thousands to Jerusalem

The dark hall inside Christianity's holiest shrine was illuminated with the flames from thousands of candles on Saturday as worshippers…

Everest avalanche a reminder of risk for Sherpas
Everest avalanche a reminder of risk for Sherpas

The rescuers moved quickly, just minutes after the first block of ice tore loose from Mount Everest and started an avalanche that roared…

Student fought bureaucrats for Holocaust justice
Student fought bureaucrats for Holocaust justice

After beginning her crusade in 2011, Charlotte van den Berg has possibly won a battle for Jewish Holocaust survivors against Amsterdam. The…

Sub search for missing jet to be finished soon
Sub search for missing jet to be finished soon

A robotic submarine looking for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet is expected to finish searching a patch of the Indian Ocean seabed within a…

Pope leads torch-lit Good Friday procession
Pope leads torch-lit Good Friday procession

Pope Francis is presiding over a torch-lit Way of the Cross procession at the Colosseum marking Good Friday in Rome.

Arrest warrant issued for Korean ferry captain
Arrest warrant issued for Korean ferry captain

Prosecutors say they've asked a court to issue an arrest warrant for the captain of the South Korean ferry that sank two days ago,…

Christians mark Good Friday in the Holy Land
Christians mark Good Friday in the Holy Land

Christians in the Holy Land are commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in Good Friday prayers and processions through Jerusalem's…

PHOTOS: Prince George takes first trip
PHOTOS: Prince George takes first trip

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge take a royal trip to New Zealand and…

Brewers seek to rekindle Belgium's love of beer
Brewers seek to rekindle Belgium's love of beer

The ruby lettering on the front of the old corner pub "In de Welkom" has peeled almost beyond recognition. Owner Leza Wauters, a…