Donors pledge $4.4 billion in Syria aid for 2018: UN

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (C), UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura (R) and UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock address a press conference on “Supporting the future of Syria and the region” at the European Council in Brussels. (AFP)
Updated 25 April 2018

Donors pledge $4.4 billion in Syria aid for 2018: UN

  • UN says donors pledge $4.4bn dollars in aid for Syria and its neighbors in 2018
  • The pledges fall well short of the estimated $7bn dollars the UN is seeking

BRUSSELS: International donors will pledge $4.4 billion (3.6 billion euros) in aid of the Syrian conflict at a Brussels conference Wednesday, a senior UN official said, well short of the amount hoped for.
“My best guess is that by the end of the day we will have heard pledges for 2018 of $4.4 billion,” Mark Lowcock, the head of UN aid agency UNOCHA, told a news conference.
“I want particularly to thank the EU, Germany and the United Kingdom who have made exceptionally large pledges today,” Lowcock said.
Pledges of a further $3.3 billion for 2019 and after were expected at the conference, which groups more than 80 countries, aid groups and agencies, he added.
The money is needed for humanitarian work inside Syria and to support refugees in neighboring countries, the UN says.
The UN official had earlier said he hoped to see $8 billion pledged on Wednesday, warning that some programs may need to be cut if funds are not forthcoming.
“We are quite desperately short of resources,” Lowcock said on Tuesday, adding that UNOCHA managed to raise only half of the funds it needed in 2017.
London and Berlin led the pledges on Wednesday, with Britain announcing 450 million pounds ($630 million, 515 million euros) for 2018 and another 300 million pounds for 2019, while Germany said it would donate more than a billion euros.
Some 6.1 million people are now internally displaced in Syria, more than five million have fled the country and 13 million including six million children are in need of aid, according to the UN.
More than 700,000 people have been displaced since the start of this year alone as Assad has stepped up his offensive against rebel forces, intensifying the humanitarian crisis.

Sudan police tear gas protesters ahead of parliament march

Updated 20 January 2019

Sudan police tear gas protesters ahead of parliament march

  • Video clips circulating online show hundreds of security forces in Khartoum and more heading to nearby Omdurman
  • Longtime ruler Omar Al-Bashir insists there will be no change of leadership except through the ballot box

KHARTOUM: Sudanese police fired tear gas on Sunday at protesters ahead of a planned march on parliament in Omdurman, the twin city of Khartoum, witnesses said.

Demonstrators chanting “freedom, peace and justice” began gathering in some areas of Omdurman but were quickly confronted by riot police with tear gas, the witnesses said.

Deadly protests which erupted on December 19 after a government decision to raise the price of bread have turned into nationwide rallies against President Omar Al-Bashir’s three decade rule.

Officials say at least 26 people, including two security personnel, have died during a month of protests, while rights group Amnesty International last week put the death toll at more than 40.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella group of trade unions that is leading the ongoing protest movement, called for fresh demonstrations on Sunday and several days over the coming week.

“We are calling for a march to parliament in Omdurman on Sunday,” it said in a statement.

“The protesters will submit to parliament a memorandum calling on President Bashir to step down,” added the association, which represents the unions of doctors, teachers and engineers.

Over the past month, protesters have staged several demonstrations in Omdurman.

The SPA said there will also be rallies in Khartoum on Sunday, to be followed by night-time demonstrations on Tuesday in the capital and in Omdurman.

“And on Thursday there will be rallies across all towns and cities of Sudan,” the statement added.