Billions Pledged To Help War-Torn Syria


Billions of dollars have been pledged to help ease the plight of Syrians affected by the five-year conflict.

At a donors’ conference in London, dozens of countries committed to help reach the target of $9bn (£6.2bn). The EU pledged $3.3bn (€3bn; £2.3bn).

UK Prime Minister David Cameron told the conference: “There is a critical shortfall in life-saving aid.”

The gathering has been overshadowed by the suspension of peace talks in Geneva and intense fighting on the ground.

A Syrian government offensive, backed by Russian air strikes, is continuing north of Aleppo.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said an estimated 70,000 Syrians fleeing the bombing were moving towards Turkey.


Sixty countries are represented at the conference, including 30 world leaders. They are aiming to help the 4.6 million refugees and 13.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria.

Both David Cameron and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke of the need to get all Syrian refugee children into education within months.

The pledges included $2.6bn from Germany, $1.7bn from the UK, $1bn from France and $925m from the US.

Australia, Belgium, Italy, Poland, Japan, the UAE, Austria, Switzerland, Estonia, Denmark and Finland also committed funds.

European Council President Donald Tusk said the EU would commit €3bn this year and intended to “maintain this level of financing” for 2017 and beyond.

He said the European Investment Bank would also “play its part”, offering to lend as much as €23bn “for the whole of the Middle East and North Africa”.


The $9bn being sought on Thursday is made up of a UN appeal for $7.7bn and about $1.3bn requested by regional host governments.

Part of the reason for the record request is the underfunding of previous appeals.Only 43% of the $2.9bn pledged to the UN’s 2015 appeal has so far been funded.

Delegates from Turkey – which hosts the largest number of refugees, 2.5 million – Jordan and Lebanon said their societies would need long-term support in order to adapt to the influx from Syria.

A coalition of more than 90 humanitarian and human rights groups meeting in London on Wednesday also called for better access to education and jobs for refugees in Syria and neighbouring states.

Hours before the conference began, peace talks between the Syrian regime and opposition were suspended, amid rebel anger over the continuing Russian bombing around Aleppo.

The UN-brokered talks, which opened just two days ago, are expected to resume on 25 February. Staffan de Mistura, the UN’s special envoy at the talks, admitted there had been a lack of progress but said that the negotiations had not failed.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the talks were “undermined by the continuous lack of sufficient humanitarian access, and by a sudden increase of aerial bombings and military activities within Syria”.

He urged the warring sides to “get back to the table, not to secure more gains on the battlefields”.

Blame game over collapse of Syria talks

Middle East newspapers apportion blame to a variety of sources for the suspension of the third round of peace talks in Geneva.

Ali Ibrahim Mattar in Iran’s Arabic-language newspaper al-Vefagh takes aims at Saudi Arabia: “Saudi Arabia wants to make political solutions fail and sabotages any talks, in addition to its support for terrorist groups to destabilise Syria”.

In Syria’s state-run al-Thawrah daily, Ahmad Hamadah says: “The US Secretary of State [John Kerry] and his aides flock to the Swiss capital… and behind closed doors impede all options for a solution.”

Qatar’s pro-government al-Rayah newspaper says: “Damascus, Moscow and pro-Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s sectarian militias made the Geneva talks fail from day one. These talks were stillborn.”

Nasri al-Sayigh in the pan-Arab leftist Al-Safir daily bemoans the absence of the Syrians themselves – the refugees, displaced and missing – whilst the Saudi pro-government paper al-Watan says “Russian air strikes suspend Geneva 3 until 25 February”.