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8 months ago
Saudi Arabia launches campaign to collect funds for Syrians displaced by war
December 26, 2016 / 9:09 PM / 8 months ago

Saudi Arabia launches campaign to collect funds for Syrians displaced by war

Syrian refugee children play at Al Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, near the border with Syria, November 30, 2016.Muhammad Hamed

DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has launched a fundraising campaign for Syrians displaced by a five-year civil war, including those evacuated from eastern Aleppo, state news agency SPA reported on Monday.

More than 11 million Syrians - around half of the population - have been displaced by the fighting, which began in 2011 and has killed more than 300,000 people.

Saudi Arabia has been one of the main supporters of rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom Riyadh regards as a tool of regional arch-rival Iran.

Thousands of Syrian fighters and civilians have been evacuated from eastern Aleppo in a week-long operation this month after government forces backed by Russia and Iran closed in on their stronghold. Many of them are staying in temporary shelters in freezing temperatures.

SPA reported that King Salman bin Abdulaziz had ordered a relief campaign to be started on Tuesday and had allocated 100 million riyals ($27 million) to the drive.

"The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, has ordered a popular campaign to be launched ... to provide relief for the brotherly Syrian people," SPA said.

The agency said the funds would be used to set up a camp for refugees and to provide food, medicines and blankets for displaced Syrians. It did not say where the camp would be located.

The agency said King Salman also donated 20 million riyals of his own money to the campaign, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef had donated 10 million, and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had contributed 8 million.

Saudi Arabia has contributed to United Nations relief campaigns for Syria, including at fundraising meetings in Kuwait and elsewhere.

($1 = 3.7510 riyals)

Reporting by Ali Abdelatti; Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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