Dubai: Kuwait has been the most generous country in terms of aiding Syria.

According to the UN Development Programme, Kuwait has taken a ‘leading role’ in coordinating and contributing to the Syrian humanitarian crisis. Kuwait this week contributed $2.5 million towards UNDP’s emergency support in Syria and neighbouring countries.

During the course of the conflict, Kuwait hosted two major International Pledging Conferences for Syria and was one of the few countries who pledged donations that has fulfilled all of its pledges. This year Kuwait contributed $500 million, and last year it contributed $300 million. “The leadership of the State of Kuwait in the regional and international response to the Syria crisis has been exemplary. UNDP is thankful for Kuwait’s generous contributions towards our shared goal of a better future for the Syrian people and communities in neighbouring countries,” Sima Bahous, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States of UNDP, said in a statement.

The United Nations has been forced to cut the size of food parcels for those left hungry by Syria’s civil war by a fifth because of a shortage of funds from donors. As the humanitarian crisis within Syria intensifies, its neighbours are also groaning under the strain of an exodus of refugees that now totals around 3 million, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said. “We know that this tragedy, together with the tragedy of the people displaced inside the country, 6.5 million, now shows that almost half of the Syrian population is displaced.”

Donor countries pledged $2.3 billion for aid agencies helping Syria at a conference in Kuwait in January, but only $1.1 billion has been received so far.

The delay meant that the standard family food basket for five people, which includes rice, bulgur wheat, pasta, pulses, vegetable oil, sugar, salt, and wheat flour, had to be cut by 20 per cent in March to allow more people to be fed, according to the World Food Programme.

Guterres’s office needs more than $1.6 billion to fund fully its operations this year in response to the crisis, but has received only 22 per cent to date, a UNHCR statement said.

Some 2.6 million Syrian refugees have registered in neighbouring countries, while hundreds of thousands more have crossed borders but not requested international assistance. Guterres pointed to the huge burden this was imposing on Syria’s neighbours.

In Lebanon, he more than a million registered refugees are equal to almost a quarter of the resident population. At least one Syrian refugee was killed in Jordan’s sprawling Zaatari camp when hundreds of refugees clashed with security forces, residents said on Saturday.

“Let us not forget that in Jordan, in Lebanon and other countries, we have more and more people unemployed, we have more and more people with lower salaries because of the competition in the labour market, we have prices rising, rents rising - and that the Syria crisis is having a dramatic impact on the economies and the societies of the neighbouring countries,” Guterres said. “And so it is very easy to trigger tension, and it is very important to do everything we can to better support both the refugee community and the host communities that generously are receiving them.”