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Don't forget Syria, says EU foreign policy chief as international community raises over €6bn

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By Alberto de Filippis
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell holds a press conference after the meeting "Supporting the future of Syria and the region", in Brussels, Tuesday, May 10, 2022.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell holds a press conference after the meeting "Supporting the future of Syria and the region", in Brussels, Tuesday, May 10, 2022.   -   Copyright  Olivier Matthys/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

The international community must not forget Syria, says the EU's foreign policy chief, as €6.4 billion was raised for people impacted by the conflict in the embattled country. 

Brussels played host to the sixth annual conference on 'Supporting the future of Syria and the region' on Tuesday, where Josep Borrell reminded people of the humanitarian disaster there, much forgotten in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

"You know that the needs remain enormous," Borrell told reporters. "Even if Syria is not anymore on the front pages, on the headlines of the media around the world, even if we talk less about Syria, we are very much aware that 90% of Syrians living in Syria live in poverty. 

"90% means everybody. Everybody in Syria, although (except) the people belonging to the regime lives in poverty. 60% suffer food insecurity and barely know where the next meal is going to come from and the Russian war will increase food and energy prices and the situation in Syria will become worse."

A total of 55 countries participated in the annual conference.

The EU's total contribution amounted to €4.8 billion, with over €3.1 billion coming from the European Commission and €1.7 billion from member states.

However, according to Syrian activist Sawsan Abou Zainedin, much of the money promised on previous occasions has still not reached the necessary people.

"Aid has improved conditions or has contributed to improving the situation in multiple aspects, but it has also contributed to dangerous patterns on the ground," Abou Zainedin told Euronews.

"We have seen aid contributing to human rights violations, to entrenching existing divisions, it has also being part of the conflict economy in a way or another because it has been subjected to diversions and misuse by certain actors on the ground."

Borrell has promised to work with more accountable partners, with Russia not invited to the conference.

According to Brussels, the role of Moscow has so far not been that of the peacemaker it claims to be.

This article has been updated to include the EU's total contribution.