EU pledges 1.5 billion euros for Syrian refugees in Turkey
The EU will transfer a 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion) grant for Syrian refugees in Turkey, European Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini announced on Thursday at a donors conference in Brussels.
The EU also confirmed its pledge of 560 million euros (630 million dollars) for both 2019 and 2020, with hopes of maintaining this amount for 2021. This brings the EU pledge to over 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion) for 2019 alone.
"This aid will support the Syrian population inside Syria and in the neighbouring countries, in particular Lebanon and Jordan," said Mogherini, emphasising the need to support host countries in their long term economic recovery.
Mogherini emphasized "intra-Syrian negotiations" mediated by the UN as essential to solving the Syrian crisis.
"The goal remains the same: A Syrian led, Syrian owned political process facilitated by the UN to establish an inclusive, non-sectarian governance for a united Syria."
The UN relief chief expressed increasing alarm at the situation in Idlib, where 90 people were killed by regime shelling just last month - half of them children.
Despite a ceasefire agreed between Russia and Turkey last year, shelling by Russian and regime forces continue due to what they say is the presence of groups such as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, but civilians have faced the brunt of bombardments.
The UN says $3.3 billion is needed to help meet Syria's aid needs, plus a further $5.5 billion to support countries like Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, where many Syrians have sought refuge.
The EU said ahead of its third Syria conference it is expecting "significant pledges". Around 55 countries and 80 delegations are expected to attend the international meeting the day before the eighth anniversary of the Syrian revolution.
The conference - entitled "Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region" - is focused on supporting the Syrian people and achieving a lasting political solution, in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254.
"While many people are focusing on the apparent end of the conflict and what comes next, what should matter most is the extent of the humanitarian needs still present in the country," says Arnaud Quemin, Mercy Corps Country Director for Syria.
Although the fighting in large parts of Syria has eased, approximately 11.7 million Syrians still depend on humanitarian aid with over 80 percent of the population living below the poverty line.
As thousands flee the besieged village of Baghouz in eastern Syria, where the Islamic State group is making its last stand, refugee camps are swelling beyond capacity.
Approximately 55,000 civilians have arrived at al-Hol camp, 90 percent of them women and children, where fragile services are "on the brink of collapse".
Some 6 million Syrians have fled the country. Aid groups and NGOs have warned that those returning could face imprisonment, torture or death at the hands of regime security services.
Sixty percent of the 11 million vulnerable Syrians live in government-controlled areas where the regime restricts the access of humanitarian organisations. NGOs say the situation has become so stark in parts of Syria due to regime shelling that they have been forced to halt operations.
Agencies contributed to this report.
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