UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described the conditions in Syria as hellish, urging the international community to foster political dialogue to end the conflict, as about 70 nations met to pledge financial support to the war-torn country.
“The situation in Syria is as close to hell as we are likely to find on this earth,” Ban told a donors’ conference in London on Thursday, a day after peace talks on Syria in Geneva were halted by his mediator.
“All sides in this conflict are committing human rights abuses of a shocking scale and depravity,” Ban said earlier at the UN co-hosted “Supporting Syria and the Region” event.
“There is no military solution,” Ban said. “Only political dialogue – inclusive political dialogue – will rescue the Syrian people from their intolerable suffering.”
Meantime, British Prime Minister David Cameron urged a “new approach” to helping millions of people caught up in the conflict, focusing on education, and job creation to help Syrians rebuild their lives in the region.
Britain, the United Nations and the three other co-hosts of the conference – Germany, Norway and Kuwait – hope participants will pledge about $9bln to help 13.5 million people in Syria and 4.4 million refugees in neighboring states, News24 reported.
The largest pledge came from the European Union, which said it will allocate more than €3bln this year to help people in Syria and neighboring countries.
EU President Donald Tusk said that “after so many years of conflict, people have lost hope. We have a moral duty to bring their hope back”.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced €2.3bln in aid over the next three years, including €1.1bln in 2016, saying she wanted Thursday to be “a day of hope for the [Syrian] people.”
Cameron pledged “at least an extra £1.2bln ($1.76bln) from Britain.
The United States promised about $600mln in additional aid, plus $290mln for the education of refugee children in Jordan and Lebanon.
Norway pledged 2.4 billion kroner ($288m) for this year, with Foreign Minister Borge Brende saying the “humanitarian needs are immense”.