Displaced children in northwest Syria (Aaref Watad/AFP)
UPDATE, APRIL 1:
The UN has raised $6.4 billion of $10 billion target for aid to Syria’s displaced civilians and refugees.
The UN eventually received pledges of more than $7 billion in 2020 and in 2019.
Janez Lenarcic, the EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, said financial institutions and donors also agreed provision of low-interest loans worth $7 billion.
Germany led the pledges with 1.738 billion euros ($2.04 billion), its largest amount in four years. The European Union maintained its commitment of 560 million euros ($657 million). The US confirmed its pledge of $596 million.
ORIGINAL ENTRY, MARCH 31: In contrasting approaches to Syria’s humanitarian crisis, the UK has slashed its aid while the US has pledged another $596 million.
Britain is reducing foreign aid programs by up to 70% as it faces the economic squeeze of Brexit from the European Union and the costs of the Coronavirus pandemic.
On Tuesday, at the UN’s annual donors conference, the UK cut support for the displaced and refugees to £205 million ($283 million), compared to last year’s £300 million ($413 million) pledged and £400 million ($551 million) eventually provided.
Germany and the European Union maintained their donations, with Berlin pledging £480 million ($661 million) for this year and next.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the increase in American aid:
The needs of the Syrian people are profound. We are providing $596 million in additional lifesaving aid to those in need in Syria and across the region while we support @UN efforts to end to the crisis.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) March 30, 2021
On Monday, chairing the UN Security Council, Blinken called for the resumption of aid through border crossings, closed by Russian vetoes since January 2020. Moscow immediately objected.
UN aid head Mark Lowcock appealed to the UK, citing hunger, malnutrition and disease: “There is less fighting, but no peace dividend. More people need more help than at any point during the war.”
And just before British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab spoke, UN Secretary General António Guterres explained the scale of the crisis:
For 10 years, Syrians have endured death, destruction, displacement and deprivation.
And things are getting worse, not better. More than 13 million people need humanitarian assistance to survive this year. That’s over 20% more than last year, and the majority of the population is now facing hunger.
The UN is seeking $10 billion: $4.2 billion for displaced civilians inside Syria and $5.8 billion for refugees and their host countries.