— Foreign donors pledged more than $1.5 billion Wednesday to help the United Nations conduct relief operations for Syrian refugees.
Among the leading donors, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia each pledged $300 million to help fund U.N. humanitarian operations for Syrians.
U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday that the United States will contribute $155 million, while Bahrain pledged $25 million and Germany $13 million.
In closing remarks to the donor's meeting in Kuwait on Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called it the largest response ever to a humanitarian pledging conference.
Ban urged the warring sides in Syria to halt their fighting, calling the situation in the country "catastrophic." He warned that in the meantime the exodus of Syrian refugees to neighboring states is likely to intensify.
Major refugee crisis
Arab leaders, Western diplomats and U.N. officials listened intently as conference participants detailed the financial needs to cope with the growing Syrian refugee crisis.
Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah al Ahmad al Sabah, who organized the conference, highlighted the human tragedy of the Syrian conflict and the international community's inability to cope with it.
Sabah said Arab states have been calling on the U.N. Security Council to find a solution to the Syrian crisis since it began almost two years ago. He urged council nations to overcome differences, saying history will judge the U.N. severely for its role in the tragedy.
Jordan's King Abdullah, whose country is sheltering more than 300,000 Syrian refugees, said Amman's resources have been stretched to the limit.
The Jordanian leader said it is imperative to set up the refugee aid fund to deal with the exceptional circumstances facing many Arab states because of the Syria conflict, and to offer support and resources to countries that have welcomed Syrian refugees.
Jordan, he said, has taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees and the cost has exhausted its resources.
It is estimated that more than 2 million Syrians have been displaced by the violence. The U.N. has registered 700,000 Syrian refugees, mostly in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.
But U.N. officials say these numbers underestimate the extent of the exodus. Neighboring countries report the presence of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who have not come forward to be registered.
A girl waves the revolutionary Syrian flag during a protest against President Bashar al-Assad in front of the Syrian embassy to commemorate the 31st anniversary of the 1982 Hama massacre, in Amman, Jordan, February 1, 2013.
Dutch student Wijbe Abma, 21, right, has raised more than $17,000 to buy warm blankets for the Syrian refugees, delivering the aid through local activists and rebel groups.
Anti-Syrian regime protesters flash the victory sign as they hold a banner during a demonstration, at Kafr Nabil town, in Idlib province, northern Syria, February 1, 2013.
Syrian citizens pray over the bodies of those who were found dead next to a river last Tuesday and who were not identified by their relatives, in Aleppo, Syria on January 31, 2013.
The bodies of dozens of men, many of them with their hands bound behind their backs, were found on the muddy banks of a small river January 29, 2013 in the northern city of Aleppo.
Relatives and Free Syrian Army fighters bury the body of Ammar Al-Achaqer, who activists said was killed by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, near Homs, Syria, January 29, 2013. (Shaam News Network)
An internally displaced boy looks out of a school at a village outside Damascus, January 28, 2013.
This image taken from video shows a Free Syrian Army fighter speaking in front of a government intelligence complex in Deir el-Zour, Syria, January 29, 2013. (Ugarit News)
A Free Syrian Army soldier flashes the victory sign as damage caused by warplanes and rocket launchers is seen at background in Hama, Syria, January 28, 2013. Image taken from video.
Syrian refugees search for their belongings at a burned tent at the Al Zaatari Syrian refugee camp, January 28, 2013.