More than $10 billion pledged at Syria donors conference

Friday 12/02/2016
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during the Supporting Syria and the Region conference in London, on February 4th.

London - “After almost five years of fighting, it’s pret­ty incredible that, as we come here to London in 2016, the situation on the ground [in Syria] is actually worse, not better. And the suffering in Syria grows. It’s not di­minishing,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said to representatives of 60 countries at the Syria donors conference.
The February 4th meeting, led by British Prime Minister David Cameron, sought to deal with the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, just days after peace negotiations in Geneva to end the 5-year-old civil war were called off.
An atmosphere of gloom per­vaded the conference, with world leaders decrying the deteriorating situation in Syria and calling on the international community to do more to address the crisis.
“The situation in Syria is as close to hell as we are likely to find on this Earth,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.
Approximately $11 billion — the largest amount raised in a single day — was pledged at the London conference, which was seeking a “new approach” to address the cri­sis.
Pledges approaching $6 billion were made for 2016. An estimated $5 billion was pledged over the long term to 2020.
Cameron dubbed the conference a “future model for humanitar­ian relief” and sought to strike a hopeful tone about the interna­tional community’s commitment to Syria.
“Today has been and is a day of hope, a day about saving lives, a day about building futures, a day about giving people the chance of a future, the chance of a life,” he said.
“If ever there was a moment to take a new approach to the hu­manitarian crisis in Syria — surely it is now.”
Cameron pledged $1.75 billion in aid, more than doubling Britain’s commitment to Syrian refugees to approximately $3.4 billion.
Germany, the top destination for Syrian asylum seekers in Europe, remains the top pledger, promis­ing some $1.3 billion in 2016, with a further $1.2 billion from 2017-20. The European Commission pledged $1 billion in 2016 and a fur­ther $1.4 billion until 2020. The United States committed $900 million in 2016, bringing its total commitment to $5 bil­lion.
Britain, Japan, Nor­way, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were the next largest donors for 2016, figures revealed.
The conference was the fourth to address the needs of the 6 million Syr­ians who have been in­ternally displaced and the more than 4 million refu­gees who have fled the country.
According to the United Nations, more than 1.6 million Syrian refu­gees have sought refuge in neigh­bouring Lebanon and Jordan. More than 2.5 million are in Turkey, of­ten the last stop on an eventual journey into Europe.
Lebanon and Jordan have strug­gled to deal with the massive in­flux of Syrian refugees, allocating significant proportions of their na­tional budgets.
“Looking into the eyes of my people and seeing the hardship and distress they carry, I must tell you we have reached our limit,” Jordan’s King Abdullah II told do­nors.
Another major theme of the conference was education, with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai calling on donors to ear­mark $1.4 billion to provide educa­tion to the estimated 700,000 Syr­ian children who are out of school.
“It is a number the world can af­ford. Losing this generation is a cost the world cannot,” she said.
Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey pledged to ensure that refugee children in their countries would have access to education.