Last updated: 18 December, 2013

EU hands 147 million euros more to UN agencies to help Syrians

The European Union handed UN agencies 147 million euros for emergency aid to Syria on Wednesday, its biggest single donation so far to victims of the crisis.

“The suffering of the Syrian people is a stain on the world’s conscience,” said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso days after the UN launched an appeal for emergency humanitarian aid for Syrians.

“We have a responsibility to act,” he added.

A total of 63 million euros were signed over to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 61 million euros for the World Food Programme (WFP) and 23 million for UNICEF.

Some 9.3 million Syrians trapped inside the country are in need of aid while 2014 is expected to see the number of Syrian refugees in the Middle East nearly double to more than four million.

Saying the EU contracts with the UN were “the largest ever”, Humanitarian Affairs Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva said the 33-month war “is an extraordinary catastrophe that requires an extraordinary message.”

The aid will help not only Syrians displaced within the country but also those sheltering in neighbouring nations, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.

Barroso said that despite financial constraints, the EU would continue to help but he said other nations “could and should do more.”

Earlier Wednesday, the community of Sant’Egidio, a charity with close ties to the Vatican, complained that only 12,000 Syrian refugees had been rehoused in the EU, stressing that this represented 0.48 percent of the total fleeing the country.