Put Syrian people first, EU official says

Jan. 16, 2014 at 11:14 AM
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KUWAIT CITY, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- The European commissioner for crisis response said during a donor's conference for Syria that its people need attention after nearly three years of war.

Members of the international community pledged millions of dollars in assistance to help respond to the Syrian humanitarian crisis during a conference in Kuwait.

Kristalina Georgieva, the European Union's commissioner for crisis response, said nearly three years of civil conflict in Syria is having a dramatic impact on the lives of everyday civilians.

"Humanitarian aid must not be held hostage by the political and military tactics of parties to this conflict," she said in her address to the conference Wednesday. "We must put the people of Syria first."

Her comments echoed statements made earlier in the conference by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who said financial pledges mean nothing unless the Syrian government allows humanitarian groups access to those in need.

The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, was in Damascus last week pressing for more access to Syrian trouble spots.

Georgieva said progress on the humanitarian front may help encourage other prospects for conflict resolution during planned Syrian peace talks next week in Geneva, Switzerland.

"We have to use every possible means to ensure that aid gets through to where it is needed," she said. "Progress on the issue of humanitarian aid can be a confidence-building measure on the road to a full settlement."

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