(CNN) — Over 60,000 people dead. Millions forced to flee their homes. And thousands of refugees spilling out of the country every week.

The humanitarian nightmare in and around Syria is spiraling out of control. But some say funding for those affected is woeful at best.

The United Nations and world leaders are trying to tackle the issue at a fundraising event in Kuwait on Wednesday.

The pledging conference will address major shortfalls in a $1.5 billion goal to help Syrian refugees and those afflicted inside the country, said the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

“So far, only a small percentage of the funding for 2013 has been received, limiting the ability of U.N. agencies and their humanitarian partners to reach people who desperately need help,” the U.N. office said this month.

But getting the money is only part of the struggle.

The global aid group Doctors Without Borders, also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres, said there’s a serious imbalance in who gets the vital help inside Syria.

“International aid provided to Syria is not being distributed equitably between government and opposition controlled areas,” the group said in a statement Tuesday. “Areas under government control receive nearly all international aid, while opposition-held zones receive only a tiny share.”

Doctors Without Borders has helped supply makeshift medical clinics in opposition-held areas. The group estimates about one-third of the country — roughly 7 million people — live in areas beyond government control.

“Essential items, such as shelter, blankets, fuel, flour, and infant formula, are in short supply. Unofficial health services are targeted by government forces and struggle to meet the needs of numerous wounded and chronically-ill people,” the group said.

The United States, Kuwait and Germany step up aid

U.S. President Barack Obama announced an additional $155 million in humanitarian aid for afflicted Syrians inside the country and the over half-million refugees who have fled.

That brings the total U.S. pledge to $365 million, making the United States the largest single donor of humanitarian assistance to Syria.

“I want to speak directly to the people of Syria,” Obama said Tuesday. “This new aid will mean more warm clothing for children and medicine for the elderly; flour and wheat for your families and blankets, boots and stoves for those huddled in damaged buildings. … Even as we work to end the violence against you, this aid will help address some of the immediate needs you face each day.”

The United States has imposed sanctions against the Syrian government, worked to isolate the regime, and backed the opposition. But the United States and other nations have refrained from intervening militarily in the civil war.

On Wednesday, Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah kicked off the fundraising conference by announcing a $300 million donation.

Germany followed, pledging $10 million in assistance.

But as the flow of aid increases, so does the dire need as violence wracks the country unabated.

Warplanes pummeled the Hama province town of Karnaz on Wednesday as several explosions rocked the dissident stronghold of Homs, said the Local Coordination Committees of Syria.

The Syrian crisis started nearly two years ago, when President Bashar al-Assad’s forces cracked down on civilians peacefully protesting government policies. The violence led to an armed uprising and devolved into a civil war.

CNN’s Hamdi Alkhshali and Joe Sterling contributed to this report.


World leaders seek $1.5 billion in aid for afflicted Syrians – CNN International
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