Syrian people are victims of "worst humanitarian crisis of our time"

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The parents and children of this Syrian family sleep on the streets of Istanbul in Turkey. They are among the 3 million refugees from Syria, many of whom live in desperate conditions. Photo: UNHCR/S. Baldwin

The Syrian people are victims of the worst humanitarian crisis of our time, according to the UN Secretary-General.

Ban Ki-moon was speaking in Kuwait where he is chairing the third humanitarian pledging conference on Syria.

Twelve million people are reportedly in need of life-saving aid inside the country as the civil conflict enters its fifth year; close to 4 million people have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.

Stephanie Coutrix reports.

The UN chief said that by "conservative" estimates more than 220,000 Syrians are now dead, but he added that number is likely much higher.

Year after year, he said, the world has watched Syria being torn apart, with now four out of five Syrians living in poverty, misery and deprivation.

"The violence has left so many civilians without homes, without schools, without hospitals, and without hope. Today the international community stepped forward in an unprecedented show of solidarity to ease their plight."

Ban Ki-moon underlined that the country has lost nearly four decades of human development, unemployment is over 50 per cent, and life expectancy has been cut by an astounding 20 years.

He warned that Syria's children continue to suffer on what he called "a scale that haunts the soul".

Meanwhile, the UN is working to address the conflict’s deep roots and devastating impact, for which Mr Ban said $8.4 billion is needed.

He noted that this year's conference is the opportunity for the international community to show generosity and to demonstrate how development and humanitarian assistance can be joined up.

Stephanie Coutrix, United Nations.

Duration: 1’01″

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