G7, Gulf states pledge $1.8 billion to UN aid agencies

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The G7 and Gulf states have pledged an additional $1.8 billion in aid to UN aid agencies. The agencies are facing budget shortfalls as they respond to some 60 million people affected by conflict.

The announcement came as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said UN aid agencies were “broke” and unable to provide the “bare minimum” for refugees in conflict areas such as Syria, Yemen, Iraq and South Sudan.

The $1.8 billion (1.6 billion euros) in additional funds would go largely to the UN refugee agency and the World Food Program, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Tuesday after a meeting of foreign ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Germany currently holds the G7 rotating presidency.

The funds will focus on Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, which are hosting some 4 million refugees from conflict-torn Syria, Steinmeier said.

“In these circumstances it is the duty of the international community to ensure the situation does not become even more drastic,” he said.

The UN has requested a record $20 billion to respond refugee crises around the globe.

Germany, which could receive up to 1 million refugees fleeing conflict this year , will provide an additional $113 million.

Other countries making aid pledges include the United States ($419 million), the Netherlands ($123 million), Saudi Arabia ($100 million), Switzerland ($71.7 million), Austria ($10 million).

The four-and-a-half year civil war in Syria and the migrant crisis in Europe are expected to dominate UN talks on Wednesday. The war in Syria has killed over 200,000 people and displaced over 4 million more, according to the United Nations. Hundreds of thousands of refugees are expected to arrive on the continent this year.

The G7 is composed of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. The foreign ministers of several European states and Gulf states, which have come under criticism for not taking in Syrian refugees, also made pledges.

 

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