The Federal Republic of Germany has announced that it will support Syria with up to 2.3 billion Euros ($2.6 billion) in humanitarian aid from now till the year 2018.
Chancellor Angela Merkel made the pledged at the international donors’ conference in London led by the United Nations to raise an amount of $7.7 billion to respond to the humanitarian disaster in Syria.
Deutsche Welle reports that last year, the donors’ conference on Syria requested $7 billion, but almost half of the amount was not funded, forcing painful cuts in many programs including food aid.
Currently as we speak, many residents in besieged areas in Syria are starving to death. In the town of Madaya, residents are said to be eating grass with salt water as source of food. The international medical charity, MSF has confirmed that 32 people have died from severe acute malnutrition since December 2015 in Madaya.
The UN and other charities working to get emergency aid to Syria said they are hopeful that the funding target for this year’s conference will be reached in order to help Syrians in desperate need of aid.
The spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Jens Laerke said “We hope and expect to raise significant new funding”.
According to the breakdown of donors who have contributed so far at the conference, the United Kingdom has pledged $1.75 billion in new aid by 2020, while the United States has also pledged $900 million. These pledges give a total of $5.1 billion.
The German Foreign Office said 1.1 billion Euros of what Germany has pledged will be disbursed this year to take care of basic needs, and plan for a long term opportunities for Syrians.
The Office is hopeful that the ongoing international-backed talks in Geneva between the Syrian opposition and President Assad’s government will lead to a roadmap for the end of hostilities in the country.
— GermanForeignOffice (@GermanyDiplo) February 4, 2016
Germany has played and still playing a key role in the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe. The country received more than one million refugees, mostly Syrians in 2015. It is even expected that similar number will arrive in the country by the end of this year.
The German Development Minister, Gerd Müller told Deutsche Welle in an interview that the London conference must send a strong signal from the international community that the refugee crisis needs to be solved locally.
“With 10 billion euros ($11.1 billion) we can stabilize the whole region and give a signal to refugees: you can stay over there; we are creating new opportunities“, he said.
Müller also said a key to development was to create economic opportunities centered on infrastructure and investment in the most affected neighboring countries of the conflict such as Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey.
Legal employment opportunities are severely limited for refugees, and aid agencies are urging countries hosting refugees to open up opportunities for legal employment. Germany has suggested a program to create 500,000 short-term jobs for refugees in the country.
The United Nations International children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has warned of a “lost generation” of the current children in and out of Syria. UNICEF said this is because many children are out of school, and their parents are overwhelmed with providing safety for them.
UNICEF is therefore asking for nearly $1.2 billion, a quarter of which will be used in a bid to educate 8.2 million children inside and outside of the country. In recent polls in Germany, it was revealed that many refugee parents want education and opportunities for their children, and it is the primary motive why they have risked their lives on the high seas and in the hands of smugglers to reach Europe.
The Syrian civil war began in the early spring of 2011. It was a nationwide protest against President Bashar al-Assad’s government; however, it soon degenerated into an armed conflict, with rebel forces vowing to remove Assad from power. It has been estimated that between 140,000 and 350,000 people have died so far from the conflict. In March 2015, Al Jazeera estimated that some 10.9 million Syrians—almost half the population—have been displaced, and 3.8 million have been made refugees in other countries.
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