Syria: Pledges prove that the people devastated by conflict in Syria are not forgotten, says UN Chief Ban Ki-moon
International donors today pledged more than $2.4 billion to support humanitarian efforts that are urgently needed to help millions of people affected by the Syria crisis. The funding will help UN agencies and humanitarian partners provide life-saving aid to people affected in Syria as well as in countries hosting Syrian refugees.
Addressing the 2nd International Pledging Conference for Syria in Kuwait City, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the pledges prove that communities affected by the crisis are not forgotten. “It is also sending a strong signal to the neighbouring countries – that we appreciate their generosity, and that they will not be left to shoulder the burden alone.”
Since the start of the conflict in March 2011, over 9 million people have been affected inside Syria, including 6.5 million people who are now displaced. As many as 2.5 million people are stranded in hard-to-reach areas, including in besieged towns, where aid access has been limited or non-existent. Some 2 million people have fled the country, and are now living with host families and in refugee sites in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt.
“Syria is the biggest humanitarian crisis we face today,” said UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos who recently visited displaced families in Syria. “Every child, every woman, every man affected by this crisis deserves our continued support.”
Ms. Amos drew attention to the plight of an estimated 245,000 people living in communities that are under blockade. She noted that opposition groups continue to besiege the towns of Nubul and Az-Zahraa in Rural Aleppo, while Government forces besiege the town of Eastern Ghouta, Darayya and Moadamiyah in Rural Damascus, the Old City in Homs, and Yarmouk Palestinian refugee Camp.
“I am deeply troubled by the persistent reports of people running out of food in those besieged communities,” she said. “Children, women, men, are trapped; hungry; ill; losing hope.”
Last year, during the 1st pledging conference in Kuwait, over 40 countries pledged $1.54 billion, helping aid organizations reach millions of people with food, water, shelter, health care and other essential support. This year, pledges from nearly 40 countries have increased the overall commitment by nearly $1 billion.
Kuwait, which has hosted the conference two years in succession, pledged another $500 million this year. Secretary-General Ban called the contribution “outstanding and generous” adding that Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s leadership “is a shining example of human solidarity and constructive engagement for the collective future of this region and our world.”
Other major donors included the United States ($380 million), the United Kingdom ($164 million), Japan ($120 million) and Germany ($110 million). The European Commission and the Islamic NGOs Consortia pledged $225 million and $407 million respectively.
The latest Syria Humanitarian Response Plan (SHARP) and the Regional Response Plan (RRP) launched by UN agencies and partners call for $6.5 billion for aid efforts in 2014. The funding requirement increased from $4.4 billion last year due to the escalating violence and rising needs in Syria and neighbouring countries.
“This conflict has not only caused one of the worst humanitarian crises in decades, but it is also the biggest threat to global peace and security the world has seen in a long time,” said High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres. “For the international community, responding to the needs we have presented here today is therefore more than a question of generosity. It is, in fact, a matter of enlightened self-interest.”
Aid organizations received 70 percent of the required $4.4 billion last year. With the funds, they delivered food to 3.8 million people and improved access to drinking water for more than 10 million people inside Syria. Health partners treated 3.6 million people, and nearly 38,000 survivors of gender-based violence received psycho-social support. Hundreds of thousands of tents and other shelter supplies were delivered to refugee families across the region.