Syrian refugees are facing a large shortfall in aid after a two-day joint UN-EU pledging conference in Brussels fell billions of dollars short of the UN target for 2018.
The $4bn (£2.9bn) raised was less than half of the $9bn the UN says is needed this year to help those in need inside Syria and living as refugees in neighbouring countries. The shortfall prompted UN agencies to say some programmes may need to be cut.
Mark Lowcock, the UN under-secretary for humanitarian affairs, said the shortfall would require the UN to prioritise, stressing help should go to those most in need and most vulnerable, but that that would require more UN staff inside the country.
“We would have liked our appeal to be fully funded. We are talking about a vast sum of money and there is a lot of pressure on the financiers,” he said.
The $4bn is lower than the sums raised at a similar conference last year, partly due to a delay in a $1bn US pledge and continued discussions between the EU and Turkey over the details of a package agreed two years ago, designed to help Turkey handle 3.5 million refugees.
UN officials nevertheless described the aid package for 2018 as a good start and said the figure could rise on the basis of progress last year.
The bulk of the money raised at the conference itself came from Germany, the EU, and the UK. British hopes of a large pledge from Gulf states did not materialise. Britain itself pledged a further £250m, including help to train doctors and nurses in trauma care.
The UN had said it was aiming for a total of $3.6bn for a humanitarian response plan for those in need inside Syria, of which $800m (23%) had been pledged before the conference. Separately the UN was seeking $5.6bn for refugees on the Syrian borders, of which $1.2bn has already been committed in earlier conferences.
Source: The Guardian