International donors have pledged six billion dollars in aid to Syria after a disastrous chemical attack that killed dozens of civilians in a rebel-held province.
At an emergency U.N. Security Council emergency meeting in Brussels regarding the incident, donors from over 70 countries have committed to a “collective pledge of $6 billion for this year alone,” according to EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides. According to reports from The Washington Post, another $3.7 billion was pledged for 2018 and beyond.
The war-torn country’s “needs are massive,” said Stylianides.
“Our conference is sending a powerful message,” Stylianides added. “We are not letting down the people of Syria.”
According to a Syrian monitoring group, the death toll from the chemical attack on the northern town of Khan Sheikhoun has risen to 86.
U.S intelligence officials, the World Health Organization, and Doctors Without Borders say that initial evidence points to nerve gas being the weapon used in the attack.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for Syria’s warring factions and government backers such as Russia and Iran to finally end the six-year conflict that has resulted in the deaths of almost 400,000 people.
It is unclear who is to blame for the attack, but European Union officials, Middle Eastern leaders and the Syrian opposition have condemned the attacks and have asserted the Assad regime is responsible.
The Trump administration has also condemned the attack, and President Trump has stated that his “attitude towards Syria and Assad has changed very much.” Trump said that he would not tolerate the “heinous” attack that took the lives of “innocent people, including women, small children, and even beautiful little babies,” calling the attack an “affront to humanity.”
Trump’s ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, suggested the possibility of taking unilateral action if the U.N. fails.
The crisis in Syria has left the country in shambles. Nearly half the population has been displaced by the violence, with millions taking refuge in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and some Europe countries. The U.N. estimates the damage across Syria to be roughly $350 billion so far, including physical destruction and loss of economic activity. Four out of five people are now living in poverty.
Photo Credit: Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press
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