‘Over $10bn raised at Syria conference’

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Prime Minister David Cameron announced Thursday that a Syria donors’ conference in London had raised over $10 billion (9.0 billion euros) for humanitarian aid.
“Today’s achievements are not a solution to the crisis — we still need to see a political transition,” he said at the conference.
“But with today’s commitments… our message to the people of Syria and the region is clear — we will stand with you and support you for as long as it takes.”
Cameron had urged world leaders to dig deep to help millions of victims of Syria’s civil war — even as diplomatic efforts to end the conflict stuttered and stalled.
Pledges of aid at an international donors’ conference in London came as military bombardments in Syria intensified and tentative peace talks in Geneva were on hold.
At least 21 civilians, including three children, were killed Thursday in Russian strikes on several rebel-held districts of Aleppo city, a monitor said.
“After almost five years of fighting, it’s pretty incredible that as we come here in London in 2016 the situation on the ground is actually worse,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday.
The one-day meeting, held under tight security near the British Parliament, was aimed at gathering donations and agreeing on plans for economic and educational projects to help the 4.6 million Syrians who have sought refuge in neighboring countries including Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
Jordan’s King Abdullah said his country could not sustain unaided the burden of what he said was almost 1.3 million Syrian refugees, a fifth of Jordan’s population. The Jordanian figure includes all Syrians in the country, even those who came before 2011; the UN refugee agency says it has registered 630,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan.
“We are doing our best against very difficult odds,” the king said, but added: “We have reached our limit.
“Our country will continue to do what we can do to help those in need, but it cannot be at the expense of our own people’s welfare.”
The meeting opened hours after the latest UN-led bid to start peace talks in Geneva was suspended for three weeks — a sign of major difficulties. The faltering peace process increases pressure on donor countries to commit long-term aid to the victims of the five-year civil war.
The UN and regional countries say they need billions in assistance for 2016 alone, as the situation in the region deteriorates,
Conference co-host Britain has pledged 1.2 billion pounds ($1.75 billion) in new aid between now and 2020, and the US committed $900 million to bring total US humanitarian spending on the five-year war to $5.1 billion.
Previous aid conferences for Syria have repeatedly fallen short. Last year’s, in Kuwait, raised just half its $7 billion target, forcing cuts to programs such as refugee food aid.

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