World community pledges over $2.5b for Syrian refugees
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (L) and Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled al-Sabah attend the opening ceremony of the Second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria. [AFP]
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The international community on Wednesday pledged over $2.5 billion in aid to Syrian refugees to ease the growing burden the humanitarian crisis is placing on host countries such as Jordan.
At the closing of the second annual Syrian refugee donors’ conference late Wednesday, the UN announced it had secured pledges for $2.5 billion in funds to provide urgent humanitarian aid to a forecast four million Syrians driven from their homes and over six million internally displaced this year.
Despite surpassing the $1.5 billion raised by donor countries and international charitable organisations last year, the sum represents less than half the record $6.5 billion sought by the UN for the aggravating humanitarian crisis, which has driven over 2.4 million Syrians into neighbouring countries since March 2011.
As of January, the UN has secured 70 per cent of the $1.5 billion pledged in the 2013 conference, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
Meanwhile, Jordanian officials hailed the international response, urging the global community to step up support to host countries which are feeling an increasing strain on their education, health, water and energy sectors due to the growing influx of thousands of refugees per day.
According to Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation officials present at the conference, some $1 billion of the pledged funds are expected to be earmarked for Jordan to help offset the $3.2 billion the presence of over 600,000 Syrian refugees is expected to cost the government this year.
In a press statement issued late Tuesday, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Ibrahim Saif expected Amman to have secured $1.5 billion in international aid should the UN have reached its target goal.
The secured funds are expected to go towards direct and indirect support to help the country sustain its water, health and education sectors in order to cope with a refugee influx that stands at some 500 persons per day.
The pledges come as violence continues to intensify across Syria, with the UN reporting over 9.3 million civilians in need of “urgent humanitarian aid” — over half of whom are children.
The conference was attended by 70 countries and 24 international organisations.
In the opening of the one-day summit, Kuwait pledged $500 million for the Syrian refugee crisis, with the US and Saudi Arabia following with a pledges of $380 million and $250 million respectively.
EU countries promised a total of $753 million.
Jordan has opened its borders to over one million Syrians since the onset of the conflict, including over 600,000 classified as refugees.
Jordanian and UN officials have urged the international community to step up its support to host countries, warning that Syria’s neighbours may revisit their open-border policies in light of dwindling resources and the growing stresses placed by the burgeoning refugee populations.