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EU hopes for 'significant pledges' at Syria donor meet

Federica Mogherini speaks at the 2018 international conference on the future of Syria [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 14 March, 2019

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The EU hopes to raise the $8 billion needed to meet Syria's aid needs at Thursday's donor conference in Brussels.

The EU expects "significant pledges" for Syria at a donor conference, as the bloc seeks to keep the eight-year conflict in the international spotlight.

Speaking ahead of Thursday's donor conference in Brussels, foreign policy chief and top EU diplomat Federica Mogherini said that Syrians must "not to be forgotten in a moment where the international community seems to care a little bit less about this".

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.

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.

"Two out of three Syrians are dependent on humanitarian assistance, including the absolute basics, such as food, access to clean water, proper shelter and health care."

Although the fighting in large parts of Syria has eased, apprcximately 11.7 million Syrians still depend on humanitarian aid with over 80 percent of the population living below the poverty line.

"The money is needed to help the millions of Syrians that have borne the brunt of eight years of bitter and brutal conflict to recover – to help them feed their families, put a roof over their heads, send their children to school," said Moutaz Adham, Oxfam Syria Country Director.

"They don't want hand-outs but a helping hand to rebuild their lives and become self-reliant again".

Some 6 million people 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.

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 arrived at al-Hol camp, 90 percent of them women and children, where fragile services are "on the brink of collapse".

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.

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