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Int’l Donors Pledge $7 Billion Aid for Syria

Int’l Donors Pledge $7 Billion Aid for Syria

Thursday, 14 March, 2019 - 18:45
Syrian refugee children run in a tented settlement in the town of Qab Elias, in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir
Asharq Al-Awsat
The United Nations won almost $7 billion in aid pledges for Syria on Thursday at a conference held in Brussels, but failed to drum up the $9 billion the UN said was needed to help the millions of Syrians forced to flee the country as well as those facing a humanitarian crisis at home.

The United Nations is seeking $3.3 billion for aid to people inside Syria and $5.5 billion for refugees in the region this year. It drew more in pledges than last year when it asked for a similar amount but received less than two-thirds of its request.

Nearly 12 million people inside Syria need emergency aid, and 5.6 million refugees are being housed and fed in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt.

The European Union, the world's biggest aid donor, pledged 2 billion euros ($2.26 billion) for this year, a sum which includes money already agreed for Syrian refugees in Turkey under a deal with Ankara to take in Syrians.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, who recently visited Syria, told the conference that Syrians had lived through horrors "almost beyond contemplation" and urged countries to help finance food, water and medicine supplies.

Donors must contend with US President Donald Trump's demand that allies carry more of the burden. His government last year failed to submit a pledge, although US funding commitments eventually came in, EU diplomats said.

The United States pledged more than $397 million on Thursday, although that was less than the $697 million offered in 2017, according to the US State Department. Data for 2018 was not immediately available.

Mark Lowcock, UN under secretary general for humanitarian affairs, said that emergency aid would not solve the Syria crisis. "It requires a political solution," he said.

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