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Donors in Brussels pledge €9.6bn in aid to Syrians at home & refugees abroad

Participants pose for a group photo during the meeting 'Supporting the future of Syria and the region' at the European Council building in Brussels, Thursday, June 15, 2023.
Participants pose for a group photo during the meeting 'Supporting the future of Syria and the region' at the European Council building in Brussels, Thursday, June 15, 2023. Copyright AP Photo Geert Vanden Wijngaert
Copyright AP Photo Geert Vanden Wijngaert
By Isabel da Silva
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The amount falls short of the €10.1bn asked for by the United Nations in a humanitarian appeal.

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Donors in Brussels have pledged €9.6 billion ($10.3 billion) in grants and loans to support Syrian people both in and around the country.

The money committed at the Brussels VII Conference: "Supporting the future of Syria and the region, was held in the Belgian capital on Thursday and is supposed to help the 15 million people inside war-torn Syria, as well as the neighbouring countries hosting Syrian refugees, which themselves are in a dire economic situation.

The amount is close to what was requested by the UN, but some €500 million is missing.

UN Assistant Secretary-General, Ulrika Modéer, says that the situation in Syria and surrounding countries affects the entire globe.

"Ten per cent of coverage in regard to these needs is simply not enough. This is a crisis that actually affects, of course, the people concerned but also all the neighbouring countries and the rest of the world," Modéer said in an interview with Euronews.

"We have to support the resilience of communities, basic services, the local economy in a way that makes it possible to people to uphold their agency."

The money donated by the international community amounts to €4.6 billion for 2023 and €1 billion for 2024 and beyond. €3.8 billion in grants were pledged by the EU, with €2.1 billion from the European Commission and €1.7 billion pledged by the EU Member States. 

The rest is made up of loans from international financial institutions and donors who pledged €4 billion.

The earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria, last February, has worsened the crisis and local NGOs on the frontline say they cannot cope.

Euronews spoke to one that is operating in the rebel-held north-western area, with 1,200 volunteers trying to help young people and women.

They are also running two maternities and two hospitals for primary health care.

"We need flexible funding that we can mobilise and utilise immediately when we have disasters. We have to keep our capacity for the emergency response," Hisham Dirani, the CEO of the NGO Violet Organisation, told Euronews.

"The security situation, like unexpected military operations, is something making life harder and harder and we have to take a lot of measures."

Of the 6.8 million Syrians that left the country, around five million are not far from home.

Turkey received more than three million refugees, and the rest are mainly spread over Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.

But the leaders of these countries are increasingly talking about sending them back home.

One argument is that there is no prospect of a viable political alternative to the regime, particularly since the Arab League readmitted President Assad earlier in May, after being expelled when the civil war began in 2011.

If Syria's neighbouring countries move from words to deeds and start repatriating the refugees they have been hosting for over a decade, there could be changes in migration flows. Instead of returning home, refugees may seek another safe haven and Europe is a likely destination.

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