EU, UN Kick Off Two-Day Aid Conference For Syria In Brussels
RFE/RL April 24, 2018
A two-day international conference aimed at securing humanitarian support for victims of the seven-year conflict in Syria has opened in Brussels.
UN and EU officials held talks on April 24 with more than 200 aid groups and NGOs working in Syria and neighboring countries, and drawing up recommendations that will be discussed with the high-level delegations on April 25.
The seventh such annual gathering is co-sponsored by the European Union and the United Nations, and brings together donor countries, aid groups, and UN agencies.
The conference comes after the United States, France, and Britain carried out air strikes on Syrian military installations on April 14 in response to an alleged chemical attack in Douma, near Damascus.
According to EU estimates, some 6.1 million Syrians are now internally displaced, while more than 5 million have fled Syria, and 13 million including six million children, are in need of aid.
EU officials hope to surpass the $6 billion pledged at last year's gathering.
The UN has warned that its own appeal for this year's humanitarian funding for Syria has so far garnered less than $800 million of the $3.5 billion needed.
In parallel, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on April 24 was to hold talks with the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, as part of efforts to restart the UN-sponsored Geneva peace talks.
The previous eight rounds of talks have made little progress.
Russia and Iran, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's key allies, last year launched a separate negotiation process together with Turkey in the Kazakh capital, Astana.
As with previous conferences, neither the Syrian government nor opposition groups have sent delegates.
It also remained unclear whether anyone will attend from Russia, Turkey, and Iran.
With reporting by AFP and dpa
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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