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
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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.


New social deal signed in Morocco, salaries to rise

Updated 51 min 29 sec ago
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New social deal signed in Morocco, salaries to rise

  • The minimum wage, currently 2,570 dirhams a month ($266), will be increased by 10 percent over two years from July
  • Last July King Mohammed VI urged the government to take “urgent action” to address social issues

RABAT: The Moroccan government on Thursday announced a “new social deal” with employers and the main labor unions, under which many workers will enjoy a pay rise.
The deal agreed by the General Confederation of Moroccan Businesses (CGEM) and the three main unions — the UMT, UGTM and UNMT — is the fruit of months of negotiations
The minimum wage, currently 2,570 dirhams a month ($266), will be increased by 10 percent over two years from July, except for the agricultural sector.
Government-paid family allowances will also rise.
Meanwhile public sector workers will be given a 300-500 dirham monthly pay increase over three years.
Of Morocco’s main trade unions only the Democratic Labour Confederation has not signed the social deal which, according to the government statement, is aimed at “improving spending power and the social climate.”
Last July King Mohammed VI urged the government to take “urgent action” to address social issues, in particular health and education in the north African country which has been hit by protests over employment and corruption.
Mohammed VI pointed to social support and social protection programs that “overlap each other, suffer from a lack of consistency and fail to effectively target eligible groups.”
After months of stalemate, the dossier was handed to the interior ministry at the beginning of the year and the final rounds of talks were held.
The social unrest began in October 2016 after the death of a fisherman and spiralled into a wave of protests demanding more development in the neglected Rif region and railing against corruption and unemployment.
Morocco is marked by glaring social and territorial inequalities, against a backdrop of high unemployment among young people. In 2018, it was ranked 123rd out of 189 countries and territories on the Human Development Index.