International donors gathered in Brussels on Wednesday (March 13th), hoping to drum up $9 billion to help Syrians uprooted by the war, AFP reported.
"The conference should not only be a fundraising exercise. It must be accompanied by a political message on the conditionality of aid for reconstruction and the denial of impunity for Syrian leaders guilty of crimes," a European diplomat said.
The UN estimates $5.5 billion is needed to help the approximately 5.6 million Syrians who were forced to flee their country to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.
A further $3.3 billion is earmarked for populations inside Syria facing a humanitarian situation described by the Medecins du Monde aid agency as "unsustainable".
After two days of talks with humanitarian organisations, foreign ministers and senior UN and EU officials will meet Thursday to hear financial pledges, with a total announced late afternoon.
The UN and EU, jointly organising the conference, hope for a better return than at the 2018 Brussels conference, when pledges fell far short of expectations with $4.4 billion -- less than half of the $9.1 billion the UN said was needed.