The Dallas Morning News

Donors pledge $7.5B in new aid

Package from EU includes humanitari­an support for Syrians


BRUSSELS — The European Union and internatio­nal donors on Monday pledged $7.5 billion to help Turkey and Syria in the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated parts of the neighborin­g countries last month.

The European Commission said after the fundraisin­g conference in Brussels that nearly $6.5 billion of the total pledge will be going to Turkey, in grants and loans.

“The European Commission and the EU Member States, as well as the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruc­tion and Developmen­t represent more than 50% of this total pledge of grants,” with nearly $3.9 billion, the commission added.

The magnitude 7.8 earthquake Feb. 6 killed more than 52,000 people — the vast majority in Turkey. Nearly 300,000 buildings in Turkey either collapsed or were severely damaged, according to the country’s president.

“We have shown to the people in Turkey and Syria that we are supporting those in need,” said Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the EU’S executive arm.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressed the conference via videolink and described some of the reconstruc­tion challenges, including deadly floods that hit parts of the earthquake zone last week.

“No single country can fight against such a disaster, regardless of its level of economic developmen­t,” he said. “Your contributi­ons made at this conference will contribute to the healing of wounds and wipe clean the traces of this disaster.”

Survivors of the earthquake in rebel-held Syria have received little assistance because of deep divisions exacerbate­d by the country’s 12-year war.

The bloc has been providing humanitari­an aid to Syria since 2011 and wants to step it up. But it does not intend to help with reconstruc­tion in the wartorn country, with EU sanctions against the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad in place due to its continued crackdown against civilians.

Von der Leyen said the commission pledged an additional $115.8 million in humanitari­an aid for Syria on Monday.

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