By Agnes Szucs
BRUSSELS (AA) – The EU's crisis management commissioner announced on Tuesday that international donors pledged total of €6.9 billion ($7.7 billion) to support Syrian refugees and host countries.
"As the international community, we have today expressed solidarity with the Syrian people," Janez Lenarcic said in a closing speech of the fourth Brussels Conference on the future of Syria and the region.
The donor conference, co-chaired by the EU and UN, took place via video format due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
"The impact of COVID-19 is leading to a huge increase in humanitarian needs around the world," Lenarcic warned.
But these "concrete pledges of support will make a difference for millions of people" enabling them to afford food, decent shelter, sanitation facilities or schooling, he added, thanking host countries for their efforts.
Of the total, €4.8 billion will be mobilized in 2020, while the remaining €2 billion will be transferred during and after 2021.
In addition to the grants, financial institutions and donors will also provide €6 billion in the form of loans.
Earlier that day EU top diplomat Josep Borrell praised Turkey for carrying a "big burden" of taking care of more than 3.5 million people fleeing war-torn Syria to its territory for several years.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
Hundreds of thousands of people have since been killed and more than 10 million others displaced, according to the UN.
Turkey is the largest host country for Syrian refugees and provides international protection to nearly 4 million people who fled the neighboring country.