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As humanitarian need in Syria soars, U.S. and EU announce billions in assistance

A general view shows the 8th Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region in the European Council in Brussels, Belgium, on Monday, when the United States and the European Union announced billions in assistance for Syrians. Photo by Olivier Matthys/EPA-EFE
A general view shows the 8th Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region in the European Council in Brussels, Belgium, on Monday, when the United States and the European Union announced billions in assistance for Syrians. Photo by Olivier Matthys/EPA-EFE

May 27 (UPI) -- The United States and the European Union announced billions of dollars in humanitarian assistance for Syrians on Monday as the number of people in need in the war-torn country reaches a new grim height.

The assistance was unveiled in Brussels during the eighth conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region, with the United States announcing nearly $593 million in humanitarian aid and the EU pledging $2.3 billion over the next two years.

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The State Department said in a statement that its funding includes $360 million from its Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, as well as some $233 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance.

"The United States remains committed to assisting the Syrian people and encourages other donors to continue their support for Syrians who face severe challenges from years of war, terrorism and natural disasters," the department said.

A breakdown of the U.S. funding states the assistance will be provided through partner organizations to aid refugees, internally displaced Syrians and host communities.

Similarly, the EU, which hosted the conference, said its funding will go toward aiding Syrians inside and outside the country as well as host communities in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

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"The EU and the international community showed once again that we stand with the Syrian people and their host communities," EU High Representative Josep Borrell said in a statement.

"The international community must further intensify their efforts to create the conditions for a sustainable solution to the conflict. This is the only hope to give the Syrian people the future they deserve."

Syria has been besieged by civil war since 2011 when the regime of President Bashar al-Assad launched a crack down on pro-democracy protesters. According to the U.S. Congressional Research Service, the war has resulted in the deaths of more than half a million people and displaced half of the country's roughly 22 million residents.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a video message broadcast at the conference that 16.7 million people requiring humanitarian assistance in Syria right now is the highest since the war began 13 years ago.

"This level of prolonged suffering cannot fail to produce terrible anguish and hopelessness. And we, as the international community, cannot let this go unchallenged," he said, stating $9 billion is required to respond to the humanitarian disaster in the country.

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"If we are to provide the life-saving, life-changing support that Syrians and host communities need, we need this funding."

The conference in Brussels comes after the Day of Dialogue held on April 30 where the nations interacted with Syrian civil society.

Last year, the conference raised more than $6 billion for Syria and member states, it said.

According to the State Department, the funding it announced Monday lifts the United States' total assistance for Syria to nearly $2 billion for the fiscal year of 2023 and more than $17.8 billion since the war began.

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