Brussels (dpa) – EU officials hope to raise billions of dollars in
aid for Syrians and intensify political efforts to resolve the
country’s eight-year conflict at a three-day international conference
The Brussels meeting, co-hosted by the United Nations, is the seventh
of its kind, bringing together delegations from around 85 countries.
Over the past year, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government –
backed by Russia – has made territorial gains against rebels and
Islamic State militants, recapturing massive areas in southern,
central and northern Syria, as well as close to Damascus.
However, the future is uncertain for 5.6 million Syrians who have
fled the country. The number of displaced civilians within Syria is
even higher, with more than 11.7 million in need of help with
physical security, food, healthcare and education.
The EU believes there can be no military solution to the Syrian
crisis and supports UN efforts to bring about a political transition.
Only then would Brussels begin to support reconstruction efforts.
But the bloc is one of the biggest donors of humanitarian aid for
Syrians in the country and the region, motivated in part by a desire
to prevent refugees from seeking protection in Europe.
Last year’s conference raised 4.3 billion dollars, although the final
figure pledged was 6 billion. The EU’s ambition is to “maintain” last
year’s level of funding, an EU official said on condition of
The conference will begin with two days of dialogue between civil
society groups, regional organizations, aid groups and neighbouring
countries. More than 1,000 participants are expected.