31 Mar 2015
ing left more than 200,000 people dead, 840,000 wounded and nearly 6.5 million people displaced in Syria, the civil war is entering its fifth year, and in efforts to collect funds to help relieve the suffering, the third Pledging Conference in Kuwait City is set to take place today. The conference, which will begin with opening remarks by Kuwait Emir Sheikh Sabah al Ahmad al Jaber al Sabah, and be chaired by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday, aims to raise the funds required to meet the needs set out in the 2015 Syria Response Plan and the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) 2015-2016. Commenting on the role of the UN, and the role of Turkey in the Syrian crisis with Turkish journalists at the event, United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) spokesperson Christopher Gunnes praised Turkey’s actions, saying, “Turkey has been extremely generous; however, the need is increasing, thus the generosity of regional governments must increase.” Among the many notable attendees, Turkey’s Minister of Development Cevdet Yılmaz and his delegation will be attending the conference. Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos, High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres and Helen Clark, the administrator of the United Nations Development Program, will be speaking at the conference on Tuesday. While the international community has been criticized for its lack of action, Gunnes said, “If the UN does not do its job in disadvantaged communities, then other actors will, which would cause implications such as the events occurring in the Middle East now.” Gunnes pointed out that a political solution is needed, despite the generous support and aid from countries like Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan toward the Syrian people. “Humanitarian action, in the absence of political process will never have a meaningful impact. This does not only apply to Syria but also to Gaza and the West Bank as well,” said the UNRWA spokesperson. He further criticized the UN Security Council for its dividedness on the issue and said that the international community is going through a credibility crisis due to their position on the Syrian crisis. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman Adrian Edwards, also answered questions from Turkish media members at the event and evaluated Turkey’s position in the Syrian crisis and the role of the international community. Edwards said: “Turkey’s generosity has been extraordinary toward the Syrian refugee population. We hope that generosity will be sustained, as it has life-saving importance.” The pledging conference in the previous two years (2013 and 2014) resulted with nearly $4 billion dollars being raised, and this year the goal of the conference has been estimated by officials as $8 billion, double the number from previous years combined. The conference will be held with the participation of 78 countries and 40 international organizations. A UN envoy warned Monday of a “horrifying” humanitarian situation brewing in Syria as non-governmental organizations pledged more than $480 million for refugees on the eve of a major donor conference. The United Nations aims to raise $8.4 billion at the Syria donor meeting, which starts today in Kuwait. “Failing to meet the required funds risks resulting in a horrifying and dangerous humanitarian catastrophe,” Abdullah al-Maatuq, UN special envoy for humanitarian affairs, told a meeting of NGOs. Among the aid groups that gathered on Monday, Turkey’s IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation made the largest pledge of $100 million. Other donors included Qatar’s Red Crescent Society and Kuwait’s International Islamic Charity Organization. UN Humanitarian Affairs Chief Amos said the donor response at Tuesday’s conference “needs to be comprehensive.” She said that the humanitarian situation had deteriorated in Syria with no reduction in violence and children particularly affected.