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Donors Pledge Millions in Aid for Syrians

International donors are pledging hundreds of millions of dollars to help those affected by the fighting in Syria, where U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the conflict has set the nation back "years, even decades."

Mr. Ban chaired a donor conference Wednesday in Kuwait as part of a U.N. effort to raise a record $6.5 billion this year.

Kuwait opened the conference with a $500 million pledge, while U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced $380 million in new aid. The United States has committed $1.7 billion in humanitarian aid since the fighting began nearly three years ago.

The U.N. says more than nine million Syrians who have been forced from their homes, including the 2.3 million who have sought refuge in neighboring countries.

The need for humanitarian aid has skyrocketed in the last year, with the number of people displaced within and outside of Syria more than doubling since donors met to pledge $1.5 billion last January.



Wednesday's conference comes a week before long-sought Syrian peace talks are scheduled to begin in Switzerland.

The goal of those talks is for the Syrian government and rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad to negotiate a political transition to bring an end to the crisis that began in March 2011.

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