Saudi, UAE and Kuwait pledge $300m each to help Syrians

Updated 31 January 2013
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Saudi, UAE and Kuwait pledge $300m each to help Syrians

KUWAIT CITY: Saudi Arabia pledged on Wednesday to provide $300 million to help fund humanitarian efforts to deal with the war in Syria. The Kingdom’s Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf made the announcement at an aid donor conference chaired by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Kuwait. 
Kuwait and United Arab Emirates (UAE) also announced a pledge of $300 million each, as UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned of a “catastrophic” situation. “Due to the great sufferings of the Syrian people and to help ensure the success of the conference, I announce the Kuwaiti donation of $300 million for the Syrian people,” Kuwait Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah said as he opened the one-day conference in Kuwait City. Announcing the funding, UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said since the start of the Syria crisis the UAE had been committed to providing relief for Syrian refugees in neighboring countries.
Also addressing the International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria, Ban called for urgent financial aid, warning that if funds were not forthcoming “more Syrians will die.”
“The situation in Syria is catastrophic,” the UN chief said as he urged all parties to the conflict to “stop the killings.”
On Tuesday, the European Union and the US promised a total of nearly $300 million. Along with the pledges from gulf states, the amount donated pushes close to the UN’s appeal for at least $1.5 billion in immediate aid.
The head of the US delegation, Assistant Secretary of State Anne Richard, lauded the donations from Gulf nations.
While international aid channels are open to refugee camps in places such as Turkey and Jordan, there is far more limited capacity to organize relief efforts inside Syria because of the fighting and obstacles from Assad’s regime.
Paris-based Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders, said the UN and others need to open more routes for aid to reach rebel-held areas, which now receive only a “tiny share” of international humanitarian help.
“The current aid system is unable to address the worsening living conditions facing people who live inside Syria,” MSF president, Marie-Pierre Allie, said in a statement.
The escalating hardships in camps outside Syria also can be used by Assad’s government as potential fodder in its claims that rebels are responsible for the country’s collapse, said Fawaz Gerges, head of the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics.
“The misery of the refugees, their suffering in neighboring countries, provide the ammunition for Assad, who is saying to them, ‘See, you have no one else but your country, so come home,’” Gerges said.
The United Nations says that more than 60,000 people have been killed in Syria’s 22-month conflict, which erupted in March 2011 with peaceful protests but morphed into an armed insurgency after a harsh regime crackdown.
 

 


British-Iranian woman jailed in Tehran back in court on new charge

Updated 44 min 25 sec ago
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British-Iranian woman jailed in Tehran back in court on new charge

LONDON: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian woman jailed in Tehran for two years, has appeared in court to face a new charge, her husband said on Monday.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was summoned to a court in Tehran on May 19, according to a statement from Richard Ratcliffe, who runs the Free Nazanin campaign group.
The charge is for “spreading propaganda against the regime,” which she denies, he said.
On Sunday, she was allowed to speak to the British ambassador to Tehran, Rob Macaire.
“This is the first time that she has been allowed any contact with the embassy in over two years,” he said.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation — the media organization’s philanthropic arm — was arrested at Tehran airport in April 2016.
She is serving a five-year jail sentence for alleged sedition — a charge she has always denied.
The couple have a three-year-old daughter Gabriella who is being looked after by Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s parents in Tehran.
She has asked for temporary release from prison next month to celebrate her daughter’s fourth birthday.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson visited Iran in December last year to press for Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release on humanitarian grounds.