World pledges aid to Syria, to­tal hits US$3.8 bil­lion so far


In­ter­na­tional donors pledged US$3.8 bil­lion on Tues­day to help al­le­vi­ate war-torn Syria’s hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis, which Kuwait’s emir warned was the worst in “mod­ern his­tory.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon told par­tic­i­pants at the meet­ing in Kuwait that four out of five peo­ple in Syria were living in “poverty, mis­ery and de­pri­va­tion.

Ad­dress­ing the closing ses­sion of the Third In­ter­na­tional Pledg­ing Con­fer­ence for Syria, Ban wel­comed the promised funds as “very gen­er­ous.

The amount al­most equals the com­bined to­tal of US$3.9 bil­lion promised at the two pre­vi­ous con­fer­ences.

Ban said later at a news con­fer­ence that as many as “16 mil­lion Syr­i­ans need as­sis­tance,” in­clud­ing five mil­lions in ar­eas hard to reach be­cause of fight­ing.

The Euro­pean Union pledged nearly 1.1 bil­lion eu­ros (US$1.2 bil­lion), dou­ble the amount the bloc of­fered last year, while Kuwait opened the con­fer­ence with a prom­ise of US$500 mil­lion.

The United States pledged US$507 mil­lion and non-gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions com­mit­ted more than US$500 mil­lion.

Other ma­jor con­tri­bu­tions came from the United King­dom with US$150 mil­lion, the United Arab Emi­rates with US$100 mil­lion and Nor­way which promised US$93 mil­lion.

French Min­is­ter for Devel­op­ment An­nick Gi­rardin said Paris pledged US$22.7 mil­lion in ad­di­tion to US$100 mil­lion as part of the Euro­pean pledge.

Jor­dan and Le­banon, which to­gether host close to 2.5 mil­lion refugees, were rep­re­sented by their premiers who ap­pealed for in­ter­na­tional aid to help their economies cope with the tragedy.

Qatar’s For­eign Min­is­ter Khalid Al-At­tiyah pro­posed to set up a spe­cial fund for the ed­u­ca­tion of Syr­ian chil­dren.

In Brussels, EU aid com­mis­sioner Chris­tos Stylian­ides said in a state­ment that “the needs are over­whelm­ing, and an ex­tra­or­di­nary ef­fort is needed by the wider donor com­mu­nity to mo­bi­lize sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing. The money pledged by the bloc con­sists of 500 mil­lion eu­ros in “hu­man­i­tar­ian aid, early re­cov­ery and longer-term sta­bi­liza­tion as­sis­tance” from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, with the bal­ance com­ing in pledges from the bloc’s 28 coun­tries, the EU said.

Tues­day’s con­fer­ence, at­tended by rep­re­sen­ta­tives from nearly 80 coun­tries, was pre­ceded by a meet­ing of char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tions.

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