US announces $920 million in humanitarian aid for Syria

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The US announced $920 million in additional humanitarian assistance for Syria during an aid conference in Brussels on Thursday, the State Department said.

The announcement brings the total US humanitarian assistance to Syria and the region this year to $1.1 billion, and almost $16.9 billion since the start of the country’s war, the department said in a statement.

The EU hosted the international conference to collect money for Syria where an earthquake earlier this year aggravated the already dire plight of people who have been caught in war since 2011.

“Humanitarian funding for Syria is not keeping pace with rapidly increasing needs,” said Janez Lenarcic, the conference host and the EU’s top official for humanitarian aid and crisis management.

Three UN agencies have said the needs are “enormous” and warned that only a tenth of necessary financing has so far been secured for 2023 projects.

“More help for the Syrian people and those hosting them is imperative. The needs are enormous,” said a joint statement by Martin Griffiths, Filippo Grandi and Achim Steiner, who jointly steer the UN-led response to the crisis in Syria.

The UN chiefs said they hoped for a similar level of pledges to the $6.7 billion offered for Syria and its neighbors at a similar conference last year.

According to UN refugee agency UNHCR, more than 14 million Syrians have fled their homes since 2011, and about 6.8 million remain displaced in their own country, where almost the entire population lives below the poverty line.

About 5.5 million Syrian refugees live in Turkiye, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.

“We cannot afford to lose yet another generation. Syria should no longer be a place from which people are running away,” Dan Stoenescu, EU head of mission to Syria, said.

What started as peaceful protests against President Bashar Assad’s rule in Syria in 2011 spiraled into a multi-sided conflict sucking in Russia, Iran, Turkiye and other countries.

The war has killed more than 350,000 people.

Russia eventually tipped the balance in favor of Assad who last month received a warm welcome at a summit of Arab states that ended years of his isolation by regional peers.

The West refuses to rehabilitate Assad and a large swath of Syria remains under the control of Turkish-backed rebels and radical groups as well as a US-backed Kurdish militia.

Lenarcic also called for extended humanitarian access from Turkiye to the northwestern part of Syria.

Both the US and Germany announced on Thursday that they would provide Syria with additional financial aid.

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