International donors pledged 6.9 billion euros ($7.7 billion) to face the ongoing humanitarian challenges of the Syrian crisis, the EU said Tuesday (June 30th).
The pledges were made at the Brussels IV conference hosted by the EU and UN to assist war-affected people inside and outside Syria.
EU Commissioner for crisis management Janez Lenarcic pointed out that the fund-raising event came at a particularly difficult time.
Against the "sobering background" of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, "we must be all the more pleased with the overall pledge of support", he said.
The war in Syria has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced nearly half of the country's pre-war population since it started in 2011.
"An entire generation of Syrian children has only known war and it is still not over," said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, noting that the future of the Syrian people "is still held hostage".
In a Monday statement, leading aid groups had called for increased access and funding for millions of Syrians at risk of starvation.
More than nine years into the conflict, the fighting has receded but the humanitarian emergency remains acute, the international NGOs said in a joint statement.
"A staggering 9.3 million Syrians are now going to sleep hungry and more than another two million are at risk of a similar fate," they said.
The statement -- signed by the Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam, CARE, Mercy Corps and others -- said the number of Syrians facing food insecurity has risen by 42% since last year.
"Almost a decade of war has thrown Syrians into a spiral of despair and destitution that keeps worsening every year. International assistance is needed now more than ever," the aid groups said.
After the pledges, Marta Lorenzo, Oxfam's Middle East Director, said the amounts were "simply not enough".
Regime rejects foreign help
Damascus on Wednesday condemned the Brussels IV conference, with a foreign ministry statement calling it "a blatant interference in Syria's internal affairs".
The Syrian government was not invited to the conference, nor were any opposition representatives.
The latest commitments came as a fresh wave of US sanctions against Syria took hold in June, exposing anyone doing business with President Bashar al-Assad's government to travel restrictions and financial sanctions.
The Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act of 2019 paves the way for the prosecution of the Syrian president and his aides and supporters for the crimes they have committed against the Syrian people.