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Aid-filled ambulances from Poland speed to Syria refugee crisis

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

After warnings from the United Nations that international aid is slow in reaching over a million Syrian refugees, a handful of Syrian expats left Warsaw Sunday in two ambulances filled with donations for refugee camps in Turkey.

Poland's tiny Syrian community -- estimated to number 500 people -- organised the aid drive because the international community has been too slow in responding, the organiser of the initiative said.

"The world is dragging its feet in finding a solution for the Syrian people and refugees are in a dramatic situation," Imat Aldahari, a Syrian who has been living in Poland for two decades, told AFP as a team of volunteers packed the ambulances purchased through donations with medical and other supplies.

"We can't wait any longer," said Aldahari, adding that two other ambulances are due to join them in Romania.

The convoy is destined for the Reyhanli Syrian refugee camp in the southern Turkish province of Hayat, located west of Syria's commercial capital Aleppo.

"They need everything -- medicine above all, food and drinking water," said Aldahari, who coordinated the operation after attending a meeting earlier this month of Syrian expats in Germany focused on finding solutions to the refugee crisis.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres has urged governments to unlock the funds his agency needs to assist the refugees, half of whom are believed to be children.

According to UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, only $300 million out of $1.5 billion (1.15 billion euros) pledged at a donors' conference had been received six weeks later.

It is feared that refugee numbers could hit three million by the end of the year.

The UN Security Council -- bitterly divided over the two-year-old Syria conflict -- has failed to give its crucial agreement to any military operation to protect a safe zone inside Syria which could shelter people displaced by the conflict as well as aid workers.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130324/aid-filled-ambulances-poland-speed-syria-refugee-crisis