International Aid for Syria Exceeds Targets
31 January 2013 at 10:24 am
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses opening of the International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Countries and regional organisations, including Australia, have pledged more than $1.5 billion to provide humanitarian assistance to civilians affected by the conflict in Syria, exceeding the initial target set by the United Nations and its partners.
“Today, we have seen global solidarity in action,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the pledging conference for Syria, which was held in Kuwait City.
“We have brought a message of hope to the millions of Syrians who have been affected by this terrible crisis.”
The conference sought to raise $1.5 billion to assist civilians affected by the ongoing conflict over the next six months, including those taking refuge beyond Syrian borders. The amount pledged today exceeded the target, and exact figures are still being calculated.
Australia has pledged $A10 million, taking to $A41.5 million its total aid contribution throughout the 22-month conflict.
“The situation in Syria is catastrophic and getting worse by the day. Every day Syrians face a cascading catalogue of horrors: unrelenting violence, dwindling supplies of food and medicine, and human rights violations including sexual violence and arbitrary arrests and detention,” Ban Ki-moon said.
Ban, who chaired the conference, said the UN would ensure that the funds are used effectively to meet the urgent life-saving needs of the Syrian people.
Earlier the Secretary-General had appealed to the international community to provide the urgently-needed funds, while also stressing the necessity of a political solution to the crisis, which cannot be solved by humanitarian aid alone.
More than 60,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in early 2011. Recent months have witnessed an escalation in the conflict, which has also left more than 4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, including 2 million who have fled their homes and are now living without basic services.
Ban stressed that the UN and humanitarian partners are doing all they can to reach as many people as possible in all areas of the country. However, resources are limited and more will be needed to continue assistance over the next six months.
Australia has pledged $10 million.
Also addressing the conference, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said that $519 million of the $1.5 billion appeal will be used for humanitarian work in ten sectors inside Syria to meet essential needs, adding that the plan is based on four priorities which consist of: providing relief supplies such as food, healthcare and water to the most vulnerable; helping people who have fled their homes and the communities hosting them; supporting reconstruction of critical infrastructure; and helping the poorest people avoid total destitution.