EU pledges 6 billion dollars for Syrians

Brussels – Countries pledged 6 billion dollars in new humanitarian aid for Syrians during an EU-hosted international conference in April, where they discussed prospects to end the conflict and begin reconstruction.

The gathering in Brussels aimed to increase financial support for humanitarian aid and bolster efforts to find a peace agreement by highlighting international willingness to start reconstruction of the country as soon as a political solution is found.

“Nobody is winning this war,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said. “Everybody is losing. It poses a danger to us all.”

Delegations present at the conference pledged a total of 6 billion dollars in aid for 2017, said Christos Stylianides, EU commissioner for humanitarian aid, at the closing of the gathering.

“Now we have to move beyond declarations, we have to act to implement these pledges as soon as possible,” Stylianides said.

Germany pledged 1.169 billion euros (1.25 billion dollars) for humanitarian assistance for 2017 and beyond, which was in addition to Germany’s commitment of more than 2.3 billion euros last year to assist Syrians in the following three years.

Countries pledged 6 billion dollars of assistance for 2016

“However, there is one thing we will not pay for unless we see a credible political transition in Damascus, and this is reconstruction,” said German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that the EU would support Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan and the humanitarian work inside Syria with an additional 560 million euros in 2018.

Besides getting new pledges, the conference, which was attended by more than 70 countries and organizations, also took stock of the pledges made at a 2016 donors conference in London.

Then, countries pledged 6 billion dollars of assistance for 2016 and 6.1 billion dollars for the period between 2017-2020.

UN humanitarian affairs chief Stephen O’Brien said that countries delivered 6.4 billion dollars in 2016 – exceeding the pledged amount. The aid allowed the UN to deliver life-saving assistance to 5 million people inside Syria each month.

Later in the day, participants of the conference discussed the future of Syria, taking on the issue of reconstruction after parties to the conflict agree on a political solution.

“Once an agreement is reached – and only once an agreement is reached in Geneva – the reconstruction of Syria will require a massive collective effort, so it is crucial that the international community starts to get ready for that,” Mogherini said.

“Too many times, we were unprepared for peace and we didn’t win the peace even after the conflict was over.”

By Emoke Bebiak