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UNITED NATIONS (AP) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will chair a pledging conference in late January seeking $1.5 billion to meet urgent humanitarian needs in Syria during the first half of 2013.

Ban is calling for donor countries to do more to alleviate the suffering of more than 5 million Syrians inside and outside the country, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said Friday.

He said the conference, hosted by the government of Kuwait in Kuwait City on Jan. 30, "is a timely and much-needed opportunity to address the funding gap."

Over 2 million people are displaced inside Syria and more than 540,000 have fled to neighboring countries. The U.N. refugee agency has warned that the number of Syrian refugees could double to 1.1 million by June 2013.


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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