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World powers pledge $10 billion in aid for Syria

 The Hawk |  2016-02-05 05:40:23.0  0  Comments

World powers pledge $10 billion in aid for Syria

LONDON: World leaders pledged over $10 billion (9.0 billion euros) today to help conflict-hit Syrians at a London conference overshadowed by the breakdown of peace talks in Geneva. The European Union, Germany, Britain and the United States were among the biggest donors to provide food, education and job opportunities for Syrians in their homeland and neighbouring countries where they have fled. But hopes that the package could make a major difference inside Syria were weighed down by the suspension Wednesday of peace talks in Geneva until February 25. That came as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces, supported by Russian air strikes, stepped up their offensive near the major northern city of Aleppo, forcing nearly 40,000 civilians to flee. "Today's achievements are not a solution to the crisis -- we still need to see a political transition," British Prime Minister David Cameron said as the conference wrapped up. "But with today's commitments... our message to the people of Syria and the region is clear -- we will stand with you and support you for as long as it takes". Other steps agreed included the creation of an estimated 1.1 million jobs for Syrian refugees and those living in neighbouring countries by 2018. The conference also committed to getting 1.7 million children into education by the end of 2016/17. The $10 billion was split between just over half the amount which will be given out this year and the rest which was committed for 2017-20. Despite the pledges, the mood among many leaders was bleak, reflecting frustration at the halt Wednesday of the so-called proximity talks in Geneva which were seen as the best hope for peace since the conflict erupted in March 2011. "After five years of fighting, it's pretty incredible that as we come here in London, the situation on the ground is actually worse, not better," US Secretary of State John Kerry said. "If people are reduced to eating grass and leaves and killing stray animals in order to survive, that's something that should tear at the conscience of all civilised people," he added. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu accused the Assad regime of using a "middle centuries war strategy of starvation" against civilians near Aleppo. Among the biggest donors were the EU and its member states, which pledged more than three billion euros this year.

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