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UN urges major boost in Syrian humanitarian aid at Kuwait conference

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    FILE - In this Monday Jan. 7, 2013 file photo, a Syrian refugee woman, removes her laundry from the ground after it fell, at a temporary refugee camp in the eastern Lebanese town of Marj near the border with Syria, Lebanon. International aid officials are framing a new appeal for help in easing Syria's humanitarian crisis in terms not seen since the height of the Iraq war: Refugee numbers possibly swelling toward 1 million and more than double that figure in need of help inside the country. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)The Associated Press

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    FILE - In this Tuesday Jan. 8, 2013 file photo, Syrian refugees make their way in flooded water at a temporary refugee camp, in the eastern Lebanese Town of Al-Faour near the border with Syria, Lebanon. International aid officials are framing a new appeal for help in easing Syria's humanitarian crisis in terms not seen since the height of the Iraq war: Refugee numbers possibly swelling toward 1 million and more than double that figure in need of help inside the country. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)The Associated Press

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    FILE - In this Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 file photo, a Syrian refugee woman looks out of her tent surrounded with water and mud, at Zaatari Syrian refugee camp, near the Syrian border in Mafraq, Jordan. International aid officials are framing a new appeal for help in easing Syria's humanitarian crisis in terms not seen since the height of the Iraq war: Refugee numbers possibly swelling toward 1 million and more than double that figure in need of help inside the country. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon, File)The Associated Press

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    FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013 file photo, a Syrian refugee stands on top of a water tank at Zaatari refugee camp, near the Syrian border in Mafraq, Jordan. International aid officials are framing a new appeal for help in easing Syria's humanitarian crisis in terms not seen since the height of the Iraq war: Refugee numbers possibly swelling toward 1 million and more than double that figure in need of help inside the country. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon, File)The Associated Press

U.N. humanitarian officials led by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon are urging for a major boost in relief aid for Syria at an international conference in Kuwait that includes both foes and backers of President Bashar Assad.

Representatives from more than 60 countries gathered on Wednesday to hear U.N. appeals to pledge up to $1.5 billion to help Syrians caught in the civil war and an estimated 700,000 refugees in neighboring countries such as Jordan and Turkey.

U.N. officials say they only have a fraction of the money needed, though international pledges increased shortly before the Kuwait conference. The European Union and the U.S. promised a total nearly $400 million on Tuesday.

Significant pledges from Gulf nations are also expected. The gathering also includes envoys from Russia and Iran, key Assad supporters.