Donors pledge $4.4bn for Syria, well short of target

*International donors yesterday pledged $4.4bn in aid for civilians caught up in the Syrian civil war — well short of what the UN says is needed for humanitarian work in Syria and neighbouring countries. The sum committed at a two-day conference in Brussels was less than half of the $9bn the United Nations says is needed this year to help those in need inside Syria and living as refugees in neighbouring countries.

The head of the UN aid agency UNOCHA called the $4.4bn “a good start” but a group of nine international aid organisations said the conference “did not go nearly far enough”. “My best guess is that by the end of the day we will have heard pledges for 2018 of $4.4bn,” Mark Lowcock, the head of UNOCHA, told a news conference.

He added that pledges of a further $3.3bn for 2019 and after were expected at the conference, attended by more than 80 countries, aid groups and agencies. The Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister HE Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani announced a new pledge of $100mn in 2018 by Qatar in continuation of its commitment to alleviate the sufferings of the Syrian people.

As part of  Qatar’s pledge to support the oppressed people of Syria, Doha continues to commit itself to alleviating the impact of the Syrian humanitarian disaster, the minister said. Britain announced 450mn pounds ($630mn) for 2018 and another 300mn pounds for 2019, while Germany said it would donate more than a billion euros and the EU pledged some 560mn euros. But several major donors including the United States have not yet confirmed their pledges, Lowcock said, because of ongoing internal budget wrangling. Lowcock earlier said he hoped to see $8bn pledged yesterday.

Call to protect civilians

HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Qatar Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani called on the international community to condemn the attempts to manipulate humanitarian aid in Syria and to ensure the protection of civilians and not to use them for political blackmail. Addressing the third panel discussion on the humanitarian aspect of the second Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region, the Foreign Minister said that there are many issues related to this crisis, the most important of which are the protection of civilians and the way this war has been conducted.

Sources and photo-credits: Gulf Times