IslamNews – International donors pledged $6.4 billion in humanitarian aid on Tuesday to help Syrians fleeing a decade of civil war, but short of a $10 billion goal as governments struggle with weakened economies in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the fifth annual conference held to keep Syrians from starvation, the event hosted by the European Union sought $4.2 billion for people displaced inside Syria and $5.8 billion for refugees and their hosts elsewhere in the Middle East.
The United Nations had raised more than $7 billion in 2020 and 2019, although U.N. officials will still press for more pledges throughout this year and have time, as the money is split between 2021 and 2022.
Financial institutions and donors have also agreed low-interest loans worth $7 billion, said Janez Lenarcic, the EU Commissioner for Crisis Management.
Some 24 million people need basic aid in Syria and the surrounding region, a rise of 4 million over the past year. It is also the highest number yet since a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2011 led to a devastating civil war.
“Things are getting worse,” U.N. aid chief Mark Lowcock said via video link. “We’ve had a decade of death, destruction, displacement, disease, dread and despair,” he said, adding that the United Nations was organising its biggest-ever response plan for Syria and the region to save thousands of lives.