The best way to help the Syrian people, both in Syria and those who have sought refuge abroad, is to end the country’s five-year civil war. But while the international community is trying to bring the warring parties to the negotiating table, the people of Syria are suffering.
The Syrian war has caused a crisis beyond compare. Over 250,000 have been killed, while 17 million people are in desperate need of aid. Nearly half of all Syrians have been forced to flee their homes. Of these, about 4.6 million people have taken refuge in neighboring countries, while another 6.5 million have been internally displaced.
In an effort to alleviate the worst hardships these people face, the United Kingdom, Kuwait, Germany, Norway and the United Nations co-hosted a conference in early February, to raise the enormous sums of money needed to help. The conference raised over $11 billion in pledges: 5.8 billion for 2016 and another 5.4 billion between 2017 and 2020.
During the donors’ conference, Secretary of State John Kerry announced a U.S. contribution of nearly $601 million in additional life-saving humanitarian assistance, bringing the total U.S. humanitarian assistance so far provided to help Syrians devastated by war to over $5.1 billion. The funding announced last week will provide humanitarian aid to people across the region and to support those nations that host large populations of Syrian refugees.
Secretary Kerry also announced more than $290 million in U.S. development assistance for education to Jordan and Lebanon.
Eleven billion dollars in donations from around the world is a lot of money, but the needs are enormous. Thus, said Secretary of State John Kerry, “We call on the global community to increase by at least 30 percent the overall response to humanitarian funding appeals for refugees. We urge at least 10 countries to make pledges that have never made pledges before. We urge 10 nations to open their doors to refugee admissions that have not done so in the past.
“We urge multilateral development banks to find ways to help countries like Jordan and Lebanon by offering concessional finance for programs that support services or job creation, and to help host communities,” he said.
“And we urge special attention to the problem not simply of housing but of helping refugees through education and employment, to build self-reliance and to resume a normal life.”