International donors pledge $6bn in aid for Syria

2017-04-05 21:02


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Brussels - International donors pledged $6bn in aid for war-ravaged Syria on Wednesday as the UN Security Council held emergency talks over a suspected chemical attack that killed dozens in a rebel-held province.

Donors from more than 70 countries meeting at a conference on Syria in Brussels made a "collective pledge of $6bn for this year alone," EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides said.

He described the pledge, which appeared to approach the conference hosts' target, as "an impressive figure."

Syria's "needs are massive. Our conference is sending a powerful message," he said. We are not letting down the people of Syria."

Displaced by violence

However, the good will at the meeting was shadowed by the chemical attack on Tuesday in Idlib that killed 75 people.

Responding to the grim news, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed for Syria's warring factions and government backers such as Russia and Iran to bring an end to a six-year conflict that has taken the lives of almost 400 000 people.

"Nobody is winning this war, everybody is losing," Guterres said. "It is having a detrimental and destabilising effect on the entire region and it is providing a focus that is feeding the new threat of global terrorism."

Nearly half the Syrian population has been displaced by the violence, with millions seeking sanctuary in neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, or heading further west to Europe.

UN agencies estimate war damage across Syria so far at $350bn, including physical destruction and the loss of economic activity. Four out of five people are living in poverty.

"Behind these figures lies a gradual draining of hope and a turn toward despair that we must reverse," Guterres said.

Whole world watching

While it was unclear who was responsible for the chemical attack, many fingers at the Brussels conference pointed toward Syrian President Bashar Assad.

"The world should not be shocked because it's letting such a regime do what it is doing. What should shock us is the increase of children dying and that the whole world is watching," Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said. "Everyone is coming to Brussels to make a statement and the regime made its statement in Syria."

Hariri said Lebanon has been overwhelmed by the arrival of some 1.5 million Syrian refugees and "cannot sustain this issue anymore. The international community has to do something."

Read more on:    un  |  belgium  |  syria conflict

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