Second round of Syria pledges bring in $4.5bn

4 Feb 16

A second round of pledges focused on delivering humanitarian aid for Syria has closed today with funding commitments for 2016 totaling $4.8bn.

The funds will be supplied by the US ($925m), the European Union (€3bn, equivalent to $3.4bn), the United Arab Emirates ($137m) and Japan ($350m). Combined with the $2bn pledged during the first session, donations now stand at $6.8bn.

The total required by the United Nations humanitarian appeal for Syria and the region is $7.73bn, while a further $1.2bn is needed by governments in the surrounding region.

Announcing the US’s $925m pledge, secretary of state John Kerry said $600m will go towards the provision of life-saving humanitarian assistance, while $290m will support education in Syria and the region.

He also called on 10 unnamed countries who have yet to contribute to make funding pledges, for nations that have not yet opened their doors to refugees to do so, and for the international community to increase its overall support to refugees by 30%.

He was followed by Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, who said the same level of support announced by the EU and its member states today would continue from 2017 onwards. He noted that the European Investment Bank would also be scaling up its loans to the region.

Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey are providing a “public good” in their support of 4 million Syrian refugees, he said, adding that must be financed by the international community.

But throughout the session many noted that humanitarian aid will not be enough, and that a political solution to the conflict is needed.

It began with appeals from a number of representatives from humanitarian organisations who called not only for more funds to be mobilised and for better opportunities for those affected by the crisis, but also for the political will necessary to put an end to the bloodshed in Syria.

Stephen O’Brien, emergency relief coordinator for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, warned that a “vicious cycle” of death and “wanton destruction” threatens to “become the new normal in Syria”, as warring parties display a complete disregard for international humanitarian law.

His words were echoed by Raed Al Salah, of Syria’s The White Helmets, who noted that, while pledges will provide equipment and supplies, theyill not bring down the number killed due to the bombing by the Syrian regime and Russian forces.

“Political will to put a stop to the targeted bombing of civilians is what is needed,” he said.

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