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Syrian Families Without Vital Aid as Humanitarian Response Faces Major Funding Shortages, Save the Children Warns Ahead of Major Donor Conference

TORONTO, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 01/29/13 -- A huge funding shortfall is leaving thousands of Syrian children and families without essential aid, Save the Children warns, as governments meet this week in Kuwait for the high-level International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria.

"While governments are meeting in Kuwait, I'll be in Beddawi refugee camp in Lebanon, meeting children and families who've fled the conflict in Syria," said Patricia Erb, President and CEO of Save the Children. "Many of them have literally run for their lives - escaping intensified fighting and shortages of food, medicines and fuel. They're in urgent need of aid."

Syrian children are facing freezing temperatures, sometimes living in abandoned buildings and farms. Many have fled with their families with little or no food.

Over 4.6 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, and refugee numbers have doubled in many places in the past few weeks.

In the face of this crisis, just 3 per cent of the United Nation's $1.5 billion humanitarian appeal has been met.

"The international community needs to engage in the effort to assist Syrian refugees," said Ms Erb. "Despite the best efforts of aid workers, camps are reaching a breaking point. Governments meeting in Kuwait need to give them a life-line before it's too late."

Humanitarian needs created by the Syrian conflict have spiraled in recent weeks. This month, nearly 40,000 people have fled Syria into Jordan alone, double the number who arrived in December. Numbers of registered refugees overall have quadrupled in the past six months as the fighting intensifies.

Despite the huge cost of hosting approximately 700,000 refugees, as reported by the UN, since the conflict began almost two years ago, countries around Syria have offered support to those who have fled.

But more funding is urgently required in order to provide life-saving assistance to Syrian children and their families in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Turkey as well as the millions of people displaced inside Syria.

"The international aid appeal for Syria has always been massively underfunded. Funds are urgently needed as the number of families in need of help increases by the day," added Ms Erb.

Save the Children is bringing vital life-saving assistance to children and their families in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, reaching nearly 130,000 people across the region. The aid agency is aiming to raise $94 million with only a third funded so far.

Interviews with Patricia Erb are available from Lebanon, or upon her return. Please call: 1-800-668-5036 x222 or off hours at (647) 273-7134.

Guy Cave, Save the Children's Middle East Deputy Regional Director, will be in Kuwait for the high-level International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria. To arrange interviews, please contact: 1-800-668-5036 x222 or off hours at (647) 273-7134.

Photography is available to download here: http://storycentral.savethechildren.org.uk/?c=15980&k=125af35741.

About Save the Children

Save the Children is the world's leading independent organisation for children, delivering programmes and improving children's lives in more than 120 countries worldwide. Working toward a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation, Save the Children's mission is to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives.

Learn more at www.savethechildren.ca and www.facebook.com/savethechildren.ca.

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