Despite 'fatigue', donors pledge another $6.7 billion for Syria, neighbours
An international donor conference raised $6.7 billion for Syria and its neighbours on Tuesday despite what the European Union's foreign policy chief said was "a certain fatigue" with the war there, now in its 12th year.
The pledges, which were slightly higher than the United Nations' appeal for $6.1 billion, were made at the conference bringing together 55 countries in Brussels but excluding Russia because of its invasion of Ukraine. Moscow calls it a "special military operation."
"We are not forgetting the Syrian people and the situation in Syria," the EU's Josep Borrell said. "Certainly Syria and the suffering of its people might not be at the centre of the news anymore. There's a certain fatigue after 11 years," he said.
What started as peaceful protests against President Bashar al-Assad's rule in Syria in 2011 spiralled into a multi-sided conflict sucking in Russia, Iran, Turkey and other countries, killing as many as half a million people.
Borrell said almost all Syrians now live in poverty. According to the United Nations, more than 6.9 million people have fled their homes inside the country, and over 6.5 million remain outside Syria, of whom 5.7 million are refugees in the region, still being hosted by neighbours.
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Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, will also benefit from the humanitarian assistance, which is not designed to rebuild Syria.
Borrell also said Russia had not been invited to the conference, which has become an annual event to raise funds.
"Russia has not been invited because we are inviting those partners who have a genuine, real interest to contribute to peace in the world," he said.
"The U.S. and the European Union, along with many other partners, will continue sending a clear message of rejection of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine in all international fora," Borrell told a news conference.
Moscow says the war in Ukraine is a battle against dangerous "Nazi"-inspired nationalists in Ukraine to defend Russia against the West.