Kuwait pledges $500 million in Syrian humanitarian aid
Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah (C), United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (L) and Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled al-Sabah attend a donor conference for Syria in Kuwait City, on March 31, 2015. (AFP/File)
Kuwait’s emir announced Tuesday $500 million to help alleviate war-torn Syria’s humanitarian crisis, which he called the worst in “modern history.”
Stressing the gravity of the situation, the UN chief Ban Ki-moon told participants at a Tuesday meeting to raise $8.4 billion (7.9 billion euros) this year for Syrian aid efforts, that four out of five Syrians are living in poverty.
“I am pleased to announce the pledging of $500 million from Kuwait’s government and private sectors to support the humanitarian efforts in Syria,” Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah said as he opened the conference.
“We are meeting here to face the biggest humanitarian catastrophe in the modern history of mankind,” the emir said, calling on global powers to find a political solution to a civil war now in its fifth year.
He urged the UN Security Council, especially the five permanent members, to “abandon differences and find a political solution to the destructive conflict.”
The UAE, meanwhile, has announced it is to provide an additional Dh367 million ($99.9 million) in aid to support the humanitarian crisis in Syria.
The announcement was made Tuesday by Shaikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of International Cooperation and Development, in her statement during the Third Donors Conference for the Syrian People, which is being held in Kuwait with the participation of representatives of countries and organisations supporting the humanitarian situation in Syria.
Ban said four out of five Syrians now live in poverty.
“The Syrian people are victims of the worst humanitarian crisis of our time,” said the UN secretary general.
“Four out of five Syrians live in poverty, misery and deprivation. The country has lost nearly four decades of human development,” Ban said.
Kuwait has hosted a donor conference for Syrians in each of the last two years, generating several billion dollars worth of pledges.
Tuesday’s conference, attended by representatives from nearly 80 countries, was preceded by a meeting of charitable organisations, which pledged a total of $506 million.
Risks of inaction
“Failing to meet the required funds risks resulting in a horrifying and dangerous humanitarian catastrophe,” Abdullah Al Ma’atuq, UN special envoy for humanitarian affairs, said as he opened that meeting.
UN humanitarian affairs chief Valerie Amos said the donor response at Tuesday’s conference “needs to be comprehensive”.
The UN has complained that not all previous pledges for aid had translated into funding.
Amos said the situation had deteriorated in Syria, with no reduction in violence and with children particularly badly affected.
Ban said in a report last week that the war had forced around 7.6 million people to leave their homes in Syria, while another 3.9 million have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.
“Every day brings more death, displacement and destruction,” the report said.
Almost half of all Syrians have been forced to flee their homes, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.
Of the $8.4 billion needed, $5.5 billion is for refugees and $2.9 billion for people still inside Syria.
On Monday, international aid agency Oxfam criticised the international response to the Syrian crisis, saying money pledged was woefully inadequate.
Last year was the deadliest yet in the conflict, with at least 76,000 people killed out of a total of more than 215,000 since it began in March 2011 with peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations.
- Amidst unmet pledges, Kuwait remains most generous donor to Syrians
- International donors pledge $3.8 billion for Syrian aid
- Syrian crisis: UAE, Kuwait pledge $300m each to help Syrians
- US pledges $25 million in funding to refugee crisis humanitarian response
- World community pledges over $2.5b for Syrian refugees