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Obama pledges more humanitarian aid for Syrians, refugees

Source: Reuters - Mon, 17 Jun 2013 23:57 GMT
Author: Reuters
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Syrian children refugees pull water bottles at the Bab Al-Salam refugee camp in Azaz, near the Syrian-Turkish border June 9, 2013. REUTERS/Hamid Khatib
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(Rewrites with Obama making announcement)

By Roberta Rampton and Jeff Mason

ENNISKILLEN, Northern Ireland, June 17 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama announced more than $300 million in new humanitarian aid on Monday to address the Syrian crisis and to help neighboring countries cope with the 1.6 million refugees who have fled the civil war.

Obama announced the aid for food, medical equipment, water and shelter during a dinner with leaders of the G8 nations, which spent time addressing how best to end the two-year civil war.

The United States is also giving the Syrian opposition new military aid - a topic of controversy at the G8 summit - but has not disclosed what type of assistance it will provide.

The White House said more than $128 million would be spent on new humanitarian aid inside Syria to buy emergency medical supplies, clothing and shelter, and American wheat for flour.

More than $72 million will go to food vouchers and other aid for Lebanon, where more than 80,000 refugees are expected by December, many going to Palestinian refugee camps that were overcrowded to begin with, the White House said.

Another $45 million will go to Jordan to help feed 192,000 refugees, and more than $24 million to Iraq to help build and supply camps.

Turkey will receive more than $22 million for items like refugee tents, blankets, kitchen equipment and counseling for children displaced by the war. Egypt will receive more than $6 million in aid.

The United States has been the biggest donor of humanitarian aid during the two-year civil war in Syria, donating more than $800 million in total.

World Vision, an aid group working in Syria and neighboring countries, said the money would help.

"The world has so far failed to keep up with the basic needs of people impacted by the conflict," said Nathaniel Hurd, a policy advisor with the group, urging other donor countries to follow suit.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Lisa Shumaker)

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