World Bulletin / News Desk
Speaking at the event’s opening session, Abdullah al-Matouq, the UN’s humanitarian envoy for Kuwait, said the meeting was aimed at formulating a response to war-torn Syria’s grim humanitarian situation and mobilizing resources to this end.
"This event is intended to follow up on recent pledges by donor states and organizations, which amounted to $10 billion at the fourth international conference held in London in February," al-Matouqh said.
Thursday’s meeting, al-Matouqh added, "is taking place amid great challenges… as certain parties to the conflict continue attacking residential areas and killing civilians, especially in [the northwestern city of] Aleppo".
He asserted that, since early July, some 300,000 people had remained trapped in eastern Aleppo due to an ongoing siege by the Assad regime and its allies.
The UN envoy went on to call for the establishment of permanent "humanitarian corridors" to facilitate the delivery of badly-needed humanitarian aid into Aleppo and other besieged areas, citing severe shortages of food and medicine.
Jamal al-Ghanim, Kuwait’s acting deputy foreign minister, for his part, told conference attendees that the total number of refugees to have fled Syria now stood at some 4.8 million, while another 6.6 million Syrians had been internally displaced, according to UN statistics.
Some 13.5 million Syrians, meanwhile, remain in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, he added, citing UN figures.
The one-day meeting was attended by Turkish, Lebanese, Jordanian, Iraqi and Egyptian officials, along with representatives of the World Bank and several international humanitarian organizations.
At a closing session late Thursday, meeting attendees issued a number of recommendations.
These included the establishment of "safe zones" for displaced people inside Syria and the institution of weekly 48-hour cease-fires to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid into besieged areas.
In a final communiqué, meeting attendees condemned recent violence in Aleppo, calling for an immediate cessation of airstrikes and shelling in the area by the Assad regime and Russian warplanes, which, they said, had targeted civilian populations and infrastructure.
Attendees also called for expediting the political process in Syria based on UN Security Council Resolution 2254 of 2015 and the 2012 Geneva Communiqué -- along with other relevant international resolutions -- with a view to finding a political solution to the conflict and allowing the safe return of refugees and displaced persons to their homes.
Conference attendees also urged key donors to fulfill pledges made at the February conference in London with a view to ensuring the continuance of humanitarian operations inside Syria and supporting countries burdened with large numbers of refugees.
A ninth key donors meeting is slated to be held in Kuwait early next year.