BRUSSELS: International donors pledged nearly USD 7 billion in aid for 2019 for civilians caught up in Syria's bloody civil war, the EU said Thursday, but the total fell short of what the UN says is needed.
EU Humanitarian Commissioner Christos Stylianides announced the total at the end of a three-day conference in Brussels, on the eve of the eighth anniversary of the start of the conflict.
The European Union led the pledges with two billion euros, but the conference failed to drum up the USD 9 billion the United Nations said was needed to help the millions of Syrians forced to flee the country as well as those facing a humanitarian crisis at home.
Despite the shortfall, UN aid chief Mark Lowcock said he was "very pleased with the outcome" but stressed that only a political solution could end the misery endured by Syrians as a result of the war.
Before the conference the UN estimated that USD 5.5 billion (4.4 billion euros) are needed to help the approximately 5.6 million Syrians forced to flee their country, most to Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan.
A further USD 3.3 billion is needed for populations inside Syria facing a humanitarian situation described by the Medecins du Monde aid agency as "unsustainable".
Germany pledged 1.44 billion euros, Washington almost USD 400 million and Britain some 400 million pounds (464 million euros).