Donors pledge $4.4b in Syria aid for 2018

A destroyed hospital in Idlib

Worldwide donors will pledge $4.4 billion dollars in humanitarian aid for Syria and neighboring countries that have sheltered refugees this year, a senior United Nations official says.

He also said there had been no follow-up to an agreement at a large peace conference, hosted in the Black Sea resort of Sochi by Vladimir Putin, to set up a constitutional commission on the future of Syria.

Canada was among 85 delegations attending the donor conference in Brussels, with Liberal Omar Alghabra, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Foreign Affairs, announcing a commitment of $19.5 million US.

Donor countries, aid organisations and United Nations agencies are gathering in Brussels for the seventh annual conference on Syria's future, as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad launched a new offensive against the so-called Islamic State jihadists entrenched in a southern district of Damascus. The regional refugee and resilience response plan requires $5.6 billion to assist over nine million people with protection, humanitarian and resilience support in the neighbouring countries.

"The key issue is to make sure. priority is given to those in most need and those most vulnerable", said Lowcock, noting that Britain and Germany made the largest pledges.

Saad Hariri, the Lebanese prime minister, told the conference that the plight of Syrians was getting worse.

Bracing for Iranian Counterstrike, Israel Exposes Iran's Air Defenses in Syria
"Don't trust in your airbases, they are within reach and will soon be out of service...", the commander stated. On the other hand, the Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman responded: "Do not test us".

Some 80 countries and organizations took part in a 2-day donor conference in Brussels that wrapped up on Wednesday. The geographical advances of the regime show just how much Assad has gained in the north, and that is changing the game.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said his country will provide one billion euros ($1.22 billion US) in new funding for 2018 and subsequent years.

Mogherini underlined that the European Union - along with many around the table Wednesday - refuses to help rebuild Syria until meaningful peace moves to end the conflict resume in Geneva.

Moreover, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, who co-chaired the conference, have urged the event's participants to influence the parties to conflict in Syria to abandon the use of chemical weapons.

Federica Mogherini, the EU's foreign affairs representative, said it was "not realistic for any global institutions to give money to Assad".

Idlib, on the Turkish border in northwestern Syria, is held by an array of rebel, Islamist and jihadist forces and has seen an massive influx of people fleeing the conflict. "Because Idlib is the big new challenge, 2.5 million people", Mistura told a press conference with European Union diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini.

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