Hours after talks to bring peace to Syria were stopped, the United States has promised almost $1 billion in aid for Syrian refugees.
International donors met in London to talk about Syria’s political and humanitarian crisis. Fighting between the Syrian government, its opponents and Islamic militants continues. Refugees are fleeing the country by the thousands, most recently escaping fighting in the city of Aleppo.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the meeting was critical to helping solve the human crisis. He called on the Syrian government and its ally, Russia, to halt attacks so that aid could reach those who need it.
The donors’ conference opened Thursday in London. The goal was $9 billion, but more than $10 billion was raised, said British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Last year, donor nations agreed to raise $4.5 billion. The new amount is for support of people in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. The neighbor countries are strained by a huge flow of people escaping the fighting.
Cameron said life-saving aid is needed to support international efforts to help people. “If ever there was a moment to take a new approach to the humanitarian crisis in Syria, surely it is now,” he said.
Last year, 1 million people, largely from Syria, moved into Western Europe. Estimates say that will grow to 4 million this year. Some European countries have said they will take fewer asylum seekers than before.
Geneva peace talks suspended
The peace talks in Geneva were suspended Wednesday after opposition members said the Syrian government continued to battle Syrian rebels around Aleppo. A rights group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said 40,000 people fled the area this week alone.
U.N. special envoy Staffan de Mistura said Wednesday that indirect talks could be suspended until as late as February 25.
“It is not the end, and it is not the failure of the talks,” de Mistura told reporters. He said the Syrian government and the opposition remain “interested in having the political process started.”
The opposition has demanded that Syrian and Russian governments end the airstrikes on civilians. It also wants barriers lifted on aid to areas held by rebels. And the group has demanded that Syria release thousands of detainees.
The head of the opposition delegation said the group would not return to the talks “until we see positive steps” on these issues.
I’m Dorothy Gundy.
Caty Weaver adapted this story from VOA news reports. Kathleen Struck was the editor.
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Words in This Story
host – v. to hold an event
strain – v. to cause problems or trouble for (something)
approach – n. a way of dealing with something : a way of doing or thinking about something
envoy – n. a person who is sent by one government to represent it in dealing with another government
positive – adj. good or useful