International aid to the victims of Syria’s five-year war, including millions forced to flee their homes, has persistently fallen short, but organisers of the annual Syria pledging conference on Thursday hope for greater generosity this time around, despite a record request of close to $9 billion for 2016.
The expectations are partly based on the reframing of the aid debate over the past year, following the chaotic migration of hundreds of thousands of desperate Syrians to Europe.
Donor countries trying to slow the influx would arguably serve their own interests as much as lofty principles of international solidarity if they give more and spend in smarter ways to improve refugees’ lives and ease the burden on Middle Eastern host countries.
“I do think the European experience will have sharpened minds,” Guy Ryder, head of the International Labor Organization, said while visiting Jordan, one of the struggling host countries. “And I don’t think that’s a bad thing if it leads to action (on Thursday), as I hope it will.”
The donor conference, to be held in London, is co-hosted by Britain, Germany, Norway, Kuwait and the United Nations. World leaders and representatives of dozens of countries have been invited, along with officials from international organisations, aid agencies and civic groups.
The total aid requirement to be presented in London amounts to nearly $9 billion, including a UN-coordinated appeal by dozens of aid agencies for $7.73 billion and a $1.23 billion request by regional host governments.
The latter is a small portion of the massive economic support sought in the coming years by countries like Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, which host nearly 4.6 million Syrian refugees.