The exodus of millions of people from Syria in one of the largest refugee flights in decades is pushing neighboring countries to a breaking point, and thousands of lives are threatened with the onset of a bitter winter.
The crisis prompted a record appeal by the United Nations on Monday for $6.5 billion to help displaced Syrians and their host countries, with hundreds of thousands more refugees expected as the civil war rages.
With less than a month to go before internationally brokered peace talks by Syria’s warring sides are to begin, the U.N. chief demanded a cease-fire for the discussions to have any chance in succeeding.
“We must have cessation of hostilities before we begin political dialogue on Syria in Geneva,” Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told reporters in New York.
But the violence, which activists say already has claimed more than 120,000 lives, appears to be spiraling. Opposition groups said at least 76 people were killed in a series of airstrikes targeting the northern city of Aleppo on Sunday. They said government aircraft hit opposition-held areas in the country’s north and south Monday.