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Delegates attending the second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria
KUWAIT PLEDGES $500mn AS AMIR OPENS SYRIA CONFERENCE Over $2.4b in aid less than half of UN target

KUWAIT CITY, Jan 15: His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah inaugurated Tuesday the Second International Donors Conference for Syria with the participation of 62 countries whose total pledges amounted to $2.4 billion. It can be recalled that the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appealed for pledges amounting to $6.5 billion. In his welcome speech, the Amir thanked all the guests; especially the UN secretary general for taking the initiative for the conference. He said the conference was taking place at a time that the crisis in Syria is getting worse; leading to the displacement of an alarming number of people. He pointed out the estimated death toll since the first conference is about 140,000; hence, all forms of aid — from healthcare to safety — are easily depleted.

The Amir called on everyone to do everything they can to contribute to the cause in a bid to end the crisis, which is considered the worst in this generation. He went on to say that Kuwait fully understands the magnitude of the crisis, so it maintains its humanitarian efforts in Syria and the neighboring countries that provide shelter to refugees. He then declared that Kuwait pledges $500 million from the public and private sectors for the humanitarian cause in Syria. He praised the Kuwaiti public, describing them as generous and charitable people who are ready to help anyone in need. He also lauded those who continuously provide humanitarian aid to the Syrians. He appealed to the UN Security Council to set differences aside in order to quickly find solutions to the protracted crisis whose consequences affect the region and the entire world. He ended his speech by thanking the international community for the efforts exerted in helping Syria.

Ban Ki-moon took the floor, expressing gratitude to the Amir for hosting the conference and for the generous pledge of $500 million. He asserted this pledge is a reflection of the Kuwaitis’ generosity and the exemplary leadership of the Amir. He noted a year has passed since the first conference and the situation in Syria is getting worse. He said the country once had a very strong infrastructure but it is now left in shambles with only two functioning hospitals. Disturbed by the violence and brutality of the conflict, he pleaded for immediate end to the crisis. According to the UN secretary general, he is proud of the humanitarian efforts exerted by various organizations; given that they operate in dangerous areas. He disclosed some of these organizations suffered human casualties but the UN will carry on their mission. On the results of the first conference, Ban Ki-moon revealed the $1.5 billion donated by 43 countries resulted in the provision of different health services and vaccinations to over 3.5 million people, including children. This is in addition to the supply of clean water to more than 10 million Syrians. He asserted that even if the neighboring countries, which provide shelter to Syrian refugees, are suffering economically due to the cost of aid given to the refugees; this should not be taken as a hindrance as it only intensifies the need to provide assistance. While appealing to the international community, Ban Ki-moon disclosed the estimated amount required to sustain the humanitarian efforts this year is $6.5 billion. He said this is, by far, the biggest funding request made by the UN for a single crisis. After Ban Ki-moon’s speech, UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said that despite the continuous international contributions, help is still needed for around nine million displaced Syrians, as well as 6.5 million refugees in neighboring countries.

She warned there is danger of losing a whole generation of Syrians as children suffer due to the conflict. She stressed the ‘No Lost Generation Project’ is a humanitarian effort to protect the children and provide them with all their needs. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said the UNHCR needs $4.2 million worth of relief goods for the growing number of Syrians fleeing their country. He disclosed the commission’s activities in neighboring countries are categorized into three — life saving, precautionary measures and enhancing capacity. He added that in the past year, expenses for food for two million people, shelter for 40,000, medical services for 1.25 million and education for 600,000 children totaled $2 billion. Representatives of the participating countries then announced their pledges, while voicing concern for the worsening crisis and hoping the upcoming Geneva II talks will result in solving the problem. US Secretary of State John Kerry announced that his country pledged $380 million and its total contribution for the cause is $1.7 billion. He expressed concern on the matter, saying that the Al- Assad regime should be blamed for impeding the transportation of international aid. “We must ensure that the regime complies with the UN resolutions,” he stressed. On the other hand, the United Kingdom pledged 100 million pounds, equivalent to $164 million, while Qatar pledged $60 million. The Saudi Arabian Minister of Finance announced a pledge of $60 million bringing their total contribution to $250 million, Oman pledged $10 million and Iraq $13 million. His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah has sent cables of thanks to several ministers and senior officials for their great efforts to hold the Second Pledging Conference for Syria. They included the chief and deputy chief of the National Guard, His Highness the prime minister, the minister of Amiri Diwan affairs, the first deputy prime minister and foreign minister and the deputy prime minister and interior minister. They also included the deputy prime minister and defense minister, the deputy minister of Amiri Diwan affairs, the ministers of finance, health, minister of information and minister of Cabinet affairs.

In his cable, His Highness the Amir appreciated the ministers’ and officials’ efforts for making proper preparations and arrangements for the successful international conference on Syria. Meanwhile, His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah has sent cables of thanks to several ministers and senior officials for their great efforts to hold the Second Pledging Conference for Syria. They included the chief and deputy chief of the National Guard, His Highness the prime minister, the minister of Amiri Diwan affairs, the first deputy prime minister and foreign minister and the deputy prime minister and interior minister. They also included the deputy prime minister and defense minister, the deputy minister of Amiri Diwan affairs, the ministers of finance, health, minister of information and minister of Cabinet affairs. In his cable, His Highness the Crown Prince appreciated the ministers’ and officials’ efforts for making proper preparations and arrangements for the successful international conference on Syria. In a similar vein, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah has received a congratulatory cable from His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al- Hamad Al-Sabah on the success of the Second Pledging Conference for Syria, held in Kuwait on Wednesday. In his cable, he appreciated His Highness the Amir for sponsoring the Second Pledging Conference for Syria mainly aimed at supporting the Syrian people. He highly commended His Highness the Amir’s appeal to world countries to help Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons. In return, His Highness the Amir thanked His Highness the prime minister for the congratulatory cable on the conference meant to improve the humanitarian situation in Syria.


By: Ahmad Al-Naqeeb Arab Times Staff and Agencies

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