Estelle Shirbon & Kylie MacLellan, RAW
Donor nations have pledged to give $US11 billion ($A15.32 billion) in aid to Syrians by 2020 as world leaders try to tackle the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, while Turkey has reported a new exodus of tens of thousands fleeing air strikes.
With Syria’s five-year-old civil war raging and another attempt at peace negotiations called off in Geneva after just a few days, a donor conference in London on Thursday sought to address the needs of some six million people displaced within Syria and more than four million refugees in other countries.
Underlining the desperate situation on the ground in Syria, Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu told the meeting that up to 70,000 Syrians were on the move towards his country to escape aerial bombardments on the city of Aleppo.
Davutoglu accused Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s forces, backed by foreign fighters and Russian air strikes, of seeking to do the same to Aleppo as they did to the besieged town of Madaya, where dozens have starved to death.
‘What they want to do in Aleppo today is exactly what they did in Madaya before, a siege of starvation,’ he told a news conference at the end of the event.
Turkey is already hosting more than 2.5 million Syrian refugees. Jordan and Lebanon are the other countries bearing the brunt of the Syrian refugee exodus.
British prime minister David Cameron said donors had pledged a total of $US6 billion for Syrians for 2016, and a further $US5 billion to be spent by 2020, describing the total as the largest amount ever raised in a single day for a humanitarian crisis.
UN agencies are appealing for $US7.73 billion for this year, with governments of countries in the region asking for an additional $US1.2 billion for their national response plans.
‘We have combined a renewed effort to address the shortfall in humanitarian funding with a new approach to provide the education and jobs that will bolster stability in the region,’ Cameron said.
Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, where a significant share of the money pledged will be spent, committed to ensuring all refugee children in their countries would have access to education, and to opening up their economies so adult refugees could work.
Such measures are seen as crucial by European countries keen to improve living conditions for refugees in the region so they are less likely to travel to Europe.
A million migrants and refugees from Syria and other countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia arrived on the continent last year, triggering a huge political crisis in the European Union.