The United Nations managed to raise close to $7 billion in aid pledges for Syria on Thursday, despite growing fatigue from donors after eight years of civil war and varying opinions on how to deal with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
The U.N. is seeking a total $3.3 billion in humanitarian for those inside Syria, as well as a further $5.5 billion for refugees located across the region this year. In a video appeal message to those attending the conference in Brussels, the third of its kind on the Syrian crisis, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on attendees to renew their “financial, humanitarian and political commitments to the Syrian people, and to the countries and communities hosting refugees”.
According to U.N. emergency relief chief and head of OCHA, Mark Lowcock, the conference is likely to raise “possibly close to $7 billion,” surpassing last year’s disappointing total of $4.4 billion.
Lowcock said he was “pleased with this important signal of the international community’s solidarity with the people in Syria and with Syria’s neighbors who are hosting huge numbers of refugees and feeling the strain of their generosity.”
A single stark message from Syrians is left ringing in our ears: they want to live in safety.
Yet attacks continue on civilians.
My remarks at #SyriaConf2019 https://t.co/f2TVcaUWIH#InvestInHumanity#NotATarget
Pic @UNICEF pic.twitter.com/JNvHXPd8sh
— Mark Lowcock (@UNReliefChief) March 14, 2019
“Having a clarified position on funding levels so early in the year gives us confidence that we will be able to sustain a very high level of programming throughout the year,” he continued.
As the country’s long-running civil war reaches its inevitable conclusion, there are still 12 million people inside Syria requiring emergency humanitarian aid, while a further 5.6 million refugees still need sustained shelter and Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Egypt. An estimated 80 percent of people within Syria still live in extreme poverty.
European Union foreign affairs official Federica Mogherini, who co-hosted the conference the EU’s top foreign affairs official, urged the international community to show solidarity with the people of Syria and reminded them that the conflict is “not over yet.”
“We want the people of Syria not to be forgotten at a moment when the international community seems to care a little bit less about this,” she declared. “A military situation…might be developing in one sense or another, but what is clear to anybody is that winning the peace will require a political, Syrian-owned process led by the United Nations in Geneva.”
Follow Ben Kew on Facebook, Twitter at @ben_kew, or email him at email@example.com.