Donors fall short of UN Syria aid goal | Daily News

Donors fall short of UN Syria aid goal

Millions more people in Syria and abroad need help this year, even though violence has fallen.
Millions more people in Syria and abroad need help this year, even though violence has fallen.

BELGIUM: International donors on Tuesday pledged $6.4 billion in aid for Syria and refugees in neighbouring countries, falling well short of a UN target aimed at dealing with growing needs.

The United Nations had been hoping to raise a record $10 billion at a two-day video conference as the coronavirus pandemic has helped push the number of people requiring assistance to new highs after a decade of conflict.

EU crisis management commissioner Janez Lenarcic said $4.4 billion was promised for 2021 and $2 billion was for 2022 and beyond. Donors also offered $7 billion in loans.

The shortfall from the more than 50 donor nations at the fifth Brussels Conference on Syria, co-hosted by the European Union and the UN, was immediately condemned by international aid organisations working in Syria.

"The money pledged confirms fears that donors are not listening to the pleas of the millions of Syrians who have fled their homes and had their lives torn apart by ten years of conflict," Moutaz Adham, Oxfam Syria's country director, said in a statement.

"Many stated at the Brussels Conference that aid was needed now more than ever. Yet this funding sends a bleak message to those trying to find a future after ten years of darkness and despair."

The UN said that the $10 billion needed in 2021 was intended to be split with $4.2 billion for humanitarian relief inside Syria, and the rest for refugees sheltering in the region.

The need for aid has increased on the back of the coronavirus pandemic and a slump in the value of the Syrian pound.

That is despite the intensity of the fighting dropping in Syria after the Russia-backed forces of President Bashar al-Assad reconquered most of the country.

"Things are getting worse, not better. More than 13 million people need humanitarian assistance to survive this year," United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.

"That's over 20 percent more than last year, and the majority of the population is now facing hunger."

Syria's neighbours including Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq face their own economic woes and struggle to cope with the burden of hosting vast numbers of refugees.

Overall the UN says that 24 million people need support in Syria and across the region -- a rise of four million from last year.