Syria conference raises $10bn as Turkey warns of new exodus

Money to provide food, shelter and medicine to millions of Syrians, says David Cameron

British prime minister David Cameron and German chancellor Angela Merkel at a donor conference in London on Thursday. For European governments, the priority at the conference was to help countries close to Syria to take care of refugees. Photograph: Toby Melville/AFP/Getty Images

British prime minister David Cameron and German chancellor Angela Merkel at a donor conference in London on Thursday. For European governments, the priority at the conference was to help countries close to Syria to take care of refugees. Photograph: Toby Melville/AFP/Getty Images

 

Donor nations have pledged more than $10 billion (€8.93 billion) for Syrians affected by the conflict in their country, at a meeting in London that was overshadowed by the suspension of peace talks in Geneva.

British prime minister David Cameron said the money would provide food, shelter and medical care to millions and give refugees in neighbouring countries greater access to education and jobs.

  The Irish Government pledged €20 million for 2016, in addition to €42 million provided since 2012. Minister of State for Overseas Development Assistance Seán Sherlock, who represented Ireland at the conference, said the money would have a direct impact on the wellbeing of Syria’s citizens.

  “We are seeing a major humanitarian crisis that has been in place since 2012 and there is a need for the international community to respond to the dire needs of people on the ground who don’t have access to basic food supplies, don’t have access to education and have quite literally been bombed out of their own homes.

“We’re now in a situation in Syria where 13.7 million people have been displaced within their own country. So the object of Ireland’s exercise in supporting Syrian people is to ensure that the aid is targeted inside the country,” he told The Irish Times.

Aleppo offensive

Ahmet DavutogluTurkeyAngela MerkelUnited Nations

  “Sixty to seventy-thousand people in the camps in north Aleppo are moving towards Turkey. My mind is not now in London but on our border – how to relocate these new people coming from Syria? Three hundred thousand people living in Aleppo are ready to move towards Turkey,” Mr Davutoglu said.

  For European governments, the priority at the conference was to help countries close to Syria to take care of refugees, partly in the hope that fewer will seek to make the onward journey to Europe. Mr Cameron said that the money pledged at the conference would enable Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, which have accepted the biggest numbers of the 4.6 million Syrian refugees, to ensure all refugee children will have access to education.

  Mr Ban described the conference as a great success, adding that the international community had never raised so much money in a single day. But he warned that the crisis in Syria would continue until all actors lived up to their urgent responsibility to find a political solution to the conflict.

  “The situation is not sustainable. We cannot go on like this. There is no military solution; only political dialogue will rescue the Syrian people from their intolerable suffering. It is deeply disturbing that the initial steps of the talks have been undermined by the continuous lack of sufficient humanitarian access, and by a sudden increase of aerial bombing and military activities within Syria,” he said.