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EU should use fundraising conference to shape Syria crisis, says MEP

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By Elena Cavallone
EU should use fundraising conference to shape Syria crisis, says MEP
Copyright  Ghaith Alsayed/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

A EU-UN conference is seeking to raise funds for Syria and neighbouring countries that are hosting Syrian refugees. 

The EU says with the conflict now entering its 10th year, the dire humanitarian situation has been compounded by COVID-19. 

For some observers, the pandemic could open a window of opportunity for Brussels to make the difference.

“Because of the pandemic, those who have been running the show in Syria recently, especially Iran, are running out of money," said German MEP Hannah Neumann

She says that they need someone to pay for humanitarian aid and reconstruction.

"I really think that the EU should use this as a bargaining chip to get back on the table and to really shape the situation in Syria in a way that we would like to see, which means political reforms and strong fighting against impunity."

The EU is the biggest donor to Syrians. But, together with the US, the bloc is also imposing sanctions on Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

With the pandemic paralysing the Syrian economy, many have called for the suspension of sanctions that are having serious consequences on people’s daily life.

“I am not sure that this particular time sanctioning Syria is the right thing to do," said Professor David Crane, founder of the Syrian Accountability Project, which documents war crimes and crimes against humanity in the conflict. 

Prof Crane believes there are other ways to end the war, such as by putting pressure on Russia because Moscow has more influence in the region. He added Syrians are the ones who suffer amid any sanctions.