The Syria conference in Brussels drains more than 6 billion euros in pledges

European diplomacy feared a failure that would have been too symbolic while another war is currently raging in Ukraine. But it was finally avoided: a donors’ conference for Syria, the sixth of its kind, organized on Monday May 9 and Tuesday May 10 in Brussels, made it possible to collect pledges of 6.7 billion dollars (6.36 billion euros) for the years 2022 and 2023.

An amount higher than that collected in 2021 (5.3 billion) but still very far from the 10.5 billion dollars (9.97 billion euros) that the United Nations deemed necessary, both to help the 6.9 million displaced in the country and support neighboring countries that host 5.7 million refugees.

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The fear of Josep Borrell, the European High Representative, was that the 70 States and institutions mobilized would not bring together an amount at least equivalent to that collected recently in Warsaw in favor of the victims of the war in Ukraine, ie some 6 billion. “Lassitude sets in after eleven years of confit. She is understandable. It is difficult to deal with several conflicts at the same time, and Ukraine is in the headlines”, pointed out Mr. Borrell. However, he called for “not to abandon Syria, even if unfortunately there is no light at the end of the tunnel”.

Russia not invited

Hostilities are still raging, humanitarian law continues to be violated, the country’s crisis is economic, financial, educational, food and also concerns water, experts said. The European Commission is currently granting food aid of 225 million to the region but will no doubt have to release additional amounts.

In its desire to involve the participants, the European Union had announced at the start of the conference that it would increase its aid to 1.56 billion euros. In the process, Germany promised 1.05 billion, Poland 10.1 million, Sweden 69 million, Austria 15 million etc. The United States has committed, for their part, for the equivalent of 760 million euros, the United Kingdom for 184.6 million euros, Canada for 167 million euros, Switzerland for 57, 2 million, according to their delegations to the UN. Financial institutions, for their part, granted 1.7 billion euros in loans.

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“We must not forget Syria and its inexplicable suffering as we witness other conflicts”said Monday, Mr. Borrell, recalling that 90% of Syrians live below the poverty line and that 60% do not have enough to eat. The aid collected will not be used for the reconstruction of the country, insisted the former Spanish minister. “There can be no normalization with the Assad regime. This would require a change of behavior on its part and sincere commitments to a lasting political solution, in accordance with United Nations resolutions. »

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