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UN Hosts Conference On Syrian Refugees

Dozens Found Shot Execution-Style In Aleppoi
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January 30, 2013
Syrian activists say at least 65 bodies, some of them with their hands tied behind their backs, have been found on a riverbank in the northern city of Aleppo. Amateur video shows people mourning over the covered bodies. The U.K.-based Observatory for Human Rights said it was not clear who was behind the killings. (Video from Bambuser, via AP)

WATCH: Dozens Found Shot Execution-Style In Aleppo

By RFE/RL
The United Nations is urging a major boost in relief aid for Syrians caught up in the country's devastating civil war.

The appeal came as representatives of some 60 countries gathered at a donors conference in Kuwait.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on both sides in the conflict -- and particularly on the Syrian government -- to stop fighting "in the name of humanity."

UN officials are asking for pledges of up to $1.5 billion to help Syrians caught up in the fighting and an estimated 700,000 refugees in neighboring countries.

Kuwait pledged $300 million on January 30.

The European Union and the United States have promised a total of nearly $400 million.

Russia and Iran, key allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, are also attending the Kuwait conference.

The conference comes one day after a stark warning from the UN-Arab League envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi.

He told the UN Security Council on January 29 that violence in Syria has reached "unprecedented levels of horror," with both the government and rebels to blame.

"Syria is being destroyed," he said. "I sometimes say [that] and, of course, the parties are very angry at me when I say that. Objectively, they are cooperating to destroy Syria. Syria is being destroyed bit by bit. And in destroying Syria, the region is being pushed into a situation that is extremely bad and extremely important for the entire world. That is why I believe the Security Council simply cannot continue to say, you know, 'we are in disagreement, therefore let's wait for better times.' I think they have got to grapple with this problem now."

Brahimi spelled out what he feels the UN needs to do.

"The council has got to reaffirm the attachment and support for Syria's independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity," he said. "Also for the rights of every citizen in Syria to their human rights and dignity, irrelevant of gender, religion, or any other element."

Analysts say action on Syria in the UN Security Council has in part been blocked by Russia and China, both of whom back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The 22-month-old conflict has claimed more than 60,000 lives, according to UN figures.

Despite a lack of progress, Brahimi said he has no plans to quit.

"I am not a quitter. The United Nations has no choice but to remain engaged with this problem, whether I am there or not," he said. "The moment I feel I am totally useless I will not stay one minute more. I didn't want this job. I didn't look for it. I don't need it as a job. So, if I'm doing it, it's because -- maybe stupidly -- I feel a sense of duty. So the minute I feel that I am not, that I am really useless, I will quit."

Brahimi's comments came on the same day activists in Syria said at least 65 people had been found shot dead with their hands bound in the northern city of Aleppo.

Opposition activists blamed the government, but it was impossible to confirm who was responsible.

With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters

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