EU pledges to continue assisting Syria

The European Union (EU) has pledged to continue supporting the people of Syria and the countries which are hosting refugees from the war-torn country, EU foreign affairs chief said on Tuesday.

Addressing a news conference on the fringes of the fifth Brussels Conference on Syria, co-hosted by the EU and the United Nations, Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, said the bloc has stood by the Syrians and those welcoming them as they escape from the crisis.

“In the past 10 years, EU member states have been the biggest contributor of support with more than 25 billion euros. I am happy to announce today a new EU pledge of 560 million euros (656 million U.S. dollars), the same amount pledged last year to address the most critical humanitarian crisis,” he said.

The conference brought together some 50 countries and 30 international organisations via videolink to raise funds for Syria and refugees in neighboring countries, with the UN calling for 10 billion dollars in aid.

“For ten years, Syrians have endured death, destruction, displacement and deprivation,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a video message.

“And things are getting worse, not better. More than 13 million people need humanitarian assistance to survive this year. That’s over 20 percent more than last year, and the majority of the population is now facing hunger.”

Mark Lowcock, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, told media that the situation in Syria “is worse now than it’s been in the past nine years.”

Although there is less violence, there is more suffering, primarily because of economic consequences, said Lowcock. The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the suffering of millions of Syrians at home and in neighboring countries.