U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has called for a “new approach” to tackling the Syrian humanitarian crisis at the opening of a donors’ conference in London.
In his keynote speech at the day-long session, which brings together the leaders of NGOs and more than seventy countries worldwide, Cameron said Syria and its neighbors were facing “a critical shortfall that is fatally holding back our humanitarian efforts”.
“After years of conflict we are witnessing a desperate movement of humanity as hundreds of thousands of Syrians fear they have no alternative but to put their lives in the hands of evil people smugglers in search of a future,” he said.
He paid tribute to Syria’s neighbors -- Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey -- for hosting millions of people fleeing the civil war, and called on participants to help them provide basic services to every refugee and education to every child by the end of 2016.
“We can provide refugees with the opportunities and skills they need to make a life for themselves and their families in the host communities, giving them a viable alternative to remain in the region and equipping them for the day they can eventually return home to rebuild their country,” he said.
Also speaking at the opening, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon echoed Cameron’s call, describing the situation as “not sustainable”.
“We cannot go on like this. There is no military solution. Only political dialogue -- inclusive political dialogue -- will rescue the Syrian people from their intolerable suffering,” he said.
The one-day Syrian Donors Conference -- jointly hosted by Britain, Germany, Norway, Kuwait and the United Nations -- was called late last year after calls were made for governments and international bodies to work better together to solve protracted crises.
Participants will be urged to raise new funding for those affected by the Syrian civil war -- a crisis that includes Syria’s neighbors as well as the conflict zone. Earlier on Thursday Britain announced it was pledging an additional £1.2 billion [$1.76 billion] in aid to Syria over the next four years.
The London conference is separate to the U.N.-sponsored peace talks in Geneva, which were suspended yesterday due to intensified fighting in Syria.