World

Kuwait opens Syria donor conference with pledge of $500 million in humanitarian aid

FILE - In this Sunday, March 8, 2015 file photo, Syrian refugee Rifaa Ahmad, 50, cuddles her granddaughter at an informal tented settlement near the Syrian border, on the outskirts of Mafraq, Jordan. Kuwait opened an international donors’ conference for Syria on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 with a pledge of $500 million in humanitarian aid as the United Nations issued its largest yet appeal for $8.4 billion in commitments this year for the war-ravaged country.(AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen, File)

FILE - In this Sunday, March 8, 2015 file photo, Syrian refugee Rifaa Ahmad, 50, cuddles her granddaughter at an informal tented settlement near the Syrian border, on the outskirts of Mafraq, Jordan. Kuwait opened an international donors’ conference for Syria on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 with a pledge of $500 million in humanitarian aid as the United Nations issued its largest yet appeal for $8.4 billion in commitments this year for the war-ravaged country.(AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen, File)  (The Associated Press)

Kuwait has opened an international donors' conference for Syria with a pledge of $500 million in humanitarian aid for the war-ravaged country.

Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah made the pledge at the start of the gathering Tuesday in Kuwait. In his opening remarks, he said the Syrian conflict is the "biggest humanitarian crisis in recent history."

The civil war, now in its fifth year, has killed at least 220,000 people and displaced 11 million, according to U.N. figures.

Countries and organizations at last year's donors' conference in Kuwait pledged some $2.4 billion.

Ahead of this year's gathering, the German government said it will pledge $277 million in new aid.

Kuwaiti state media say local charities and aid organizations pledged another $506 million just before the conference started.