Syria conflict: 'EU is not a military player'

Syria conflict: 'EU is not a military player'
By Damon Embling
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Call for swift political talks to end war, as EU and UN hosts donor conference


The EU and UN are calling for swift political talks to try and end Syria's war once and for all.

As they host an international donor conference in Brussels, the warning is that territorial gains made by Damascus are not bringing the elusive peace.

But with earlier pleas for dialogue and a humanitarian ceasefire falling on deaf ears, shouldn't the EU step things up?

"We still believe that it is vital that the cessation of hostilities, in particular for the humanitarian access is guaranteed. The EU is not, has never been a military player, we are a humanitarian and political player," stressed EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. 

The Brussels conference is seeking billions of euros in aid for Syria, as the UN's special envoy warns of a new humanitarian hotspot.

"Idlib is the big new challenge: 2.5 million people. And you will not believe that all of them are terrorists, of course; they are women, children, civilians. So we hope that it will be an occasion to make sure that Idlib does not become the new Aleppo, the new East Ghouta," Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy for Syria, told reporters in Brussels. 

On day one of the conference, the debate focused on how to help the 18 million Syrians caught up in the conflict - five million of which are taking refuge in neighbouring countries.

"SARC - Syrian Arab Red Crescent - is delivering food, non-food items across the country where there is most acute need and it has an enormous health services as well. The budget for us for this year is just above 50 million Swiss Francs, so it is a big budget and the gap is enormous," said Paula Fitzgerald, Red Cross/Red Crescent officer for Syria.

Reporting from Brussels, Euronews' Isabel Marques da Silva said: "After last year's conference, 33 of the 42 donors fulfilled their pledges, but the money gathered is only half of the UN funding appeals, so they are asking for more solidarity from the international community."

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