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UK berates Russia ahead of Donors' Conference on Syria

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By Euronews  with Save The Children, Financial Times,, Reuters
UK berates Russia ahead of Donors' Conference on Syria

Ahead of the London Donors’ Conference on Syria, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond visited the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.

The conference will focus on the humanitarian needs of those affected by Syria’s five-year civil war. Its neighbour Jordan says it is hosting 1.27 million Syrians: The country has a total population of 9.5 million.

Criticism of Russia

Hammond admonished Russia for its air assaults on civilian areas within Syria.

“Until a couple of months ago there was a steady trickle of people returning to their homes in Syria from this camp despite what’s going on in the country. But that has now stopped and a new tide of refugees is heading in this direction because of the Russian bombing,” he said.

“Russia cannot continue to sit at the table as a sponsor of a political process and at the same time be bombing the civilian areas of the groups of people that we believe will form the backbone of the new Syria once Assad is gone.”

Turkey also criticised Moscow’s air strikes ahead of the third round of peace talks on Syria at the end of January.

When it seemed the opposition parties would not attend the Geneva talks, Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said:

“Unfortunately, the promises made to the opposition were not met. The continued Russian bombing of opposition areas has especially created a significant problem for them.”

Similar sentiments were echoed by spokesman for the opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC), Salim al-Muslat and Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s Foreign Policy Chief.

Jordan at the Donors’ Conference

The Syria Donors’ Conference 2016 will be hosted by the UK, Germany, Norway, Kuwait and the United Nations, on February 4.

Jordan is expected to ask for 1.6 billion dollars over three years to help fund its overstretched economy, social services and infrastructure.

Jordanian Minister of State for Media Affairs, Mohammad Momani, expressed his hope for an international effort towards resolving the problems caused by the Syrian civil war.

“We hope that there will be a serious international commitment towards the Syrian crisis. We look at this conference as a political conference, whereby Europe and the international community can give enough commitment and support to shouldering part of the responsibility that the host countries are undertaking in this period of time,” he said.

Of the 1.27 million Syrians reported to be in Jordan, 630,000 are registered with the UN. The agency says most live alongside Jordanian locals, outside of refugee camps.

The right to work

Many refugees are not legally allowed to work in Jordan, meaning some of those registered in the country have ended up in Europe, the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) reports.

They are said to be lured by the hope of employment.

The UK is among several countries advocating allowing more Syrians to work in Jordan. Jordan’s Prime Minister, Abdullah Ensour, has agreed to allow tens of thousands of Syrians to work in the country, as long as the international community offers the aid it requests.