Donors pledge more than US$6 billion for Syrians, hosts
BRUSSELS, Belgium – International donors on Wednesday pledged more than US$6 billion in fresh funds to support more than 22 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria and the surrounding region in 2017.
The announcement came at the close of the two-day ‘Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region,’ which was attended by officials including the UN Secretary General, the Prime Ministers of Lebanon and Jordan and the Foreign Ministers of co-chairs Norway, Germany, the United Kingdom, Kuwait and Qatar.
The conference also heard repeated calls for increased international solidarity with the people of Syria – and for stronger, concerted action to end their worsening humanitarian suffering.
Forty-one donors at the conference pledged a combined US$6 billion for 2017 in immediate and longer term support, and $3.7 billion for 2018 and beyond. It is to help 13.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria, and over five million refugees and 4.4 million people hosting them across the region.
The announcement in Brussels of fresh funds is timely. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, warned this week that only a fraction of the money needed to support refugees and host communities has been received so far this year, leaving already vulnerable refugees at risk of deep cuts to services.
"Host countries in the region continue to bear the brunt of the response to the Syrian crisis in a manner that is not sustainable."
“There have been important advances: policy shifts with regard to education and employment opportunities, improved access to international financing and preferential trade terms for host countries, and a growing convergence between humanitarian and development action,” Kelly Clements, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, told the conference.
“Despite this very important international support, there should be no ambiguity. Host countries in the region continue to bear the brunt of the response to the Syrian crisis in a manner that is not sustainable, and may ultimately generate further instability,” she added.
The Brussels pledges come amid ongoing UN-backed negotiations in Geneva to end six years of conflict. A suspected chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhoun in Syria’s Idlib province on Tuesday was widely condemned at the conference.
The Brussels conference was co-chaired by the UN, EU, Germany, Kuwait, Norway, Qatar and the United Kingdom and aimed to address the situation in Syria, the impact of the conflict on the region and to plan for the future.
“We have to support Syrians inside Syria and in neighboring countries – the people in need including the most vulnerable cannot wait, they need our help right now,” said Federica Mogherini, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs.
“The reconstruction of Syria will require a massive international effort – too many times we were unprepared for peace, we have to start preparing for that day, even if today that day seems very far away,” she added.