The United Nations (UN) and about 240 civil society groups on Tuesday called for eight billion dollars funding to assist millions of Syrian refugees and neighbouring countries that host them.

The sum included 3.4 billion dollars to cover the humanitarian needs of 13.5 million people within Syria this year, UN Emergency Aid Chief Stephen O’Brien said at a Syria aid conference held in the Finnish capital of Helsinki.

The other portion; 4.6 billion dollars was needed for the Regional Refugees and Resilience Plan (3RP) for 2017-18 to assist over 4.7 million refugees from Syria.

The amount would also cover 4.4 million people in local communities, who host them in the neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.

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The aid conference was held as the Central Asian Republic of Kazakhstan hosted indirect talks between the Syrian Government and opposition forces.
Referring to the talks in Kazakhstan and efforts by the UN to host further Syria talks in Geneva in February, UNHCR Commissioner Filippo Grandi said the “uncertainty” of the outcome of the political process made it difficult to evaluate how people’s movements would be affected.

In his words, Grandi said, “Even if Syrians have stopped arriving in Europe in significant numbers, I hope that everybody realises that the Syrian crisis has not gone away and continues to affect millions,’’ he said.

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Therefore, there was need “to stir the course to continue to give hope to refugees that a solution will happen,” he said, adding that it also applied to governments hosting refugees.