On March 29-30, the European Union (E.U.) and United Nations (U.N.) co-hosted the fifth annual Brussels Conference, the main pledging event through which international contributions to the ongoing Syria crisis are announced and through which civil society can engage with donors. Ahead of the conference, U.N. agencies calculatedthat they would require over $10 billion (or €8.5 billion) to address the urgent humanitarian needs inside Syria and neighboring countries. However, the pledging conference generated only $6.4 billion (€5.3 billion) in pledges, including just over $500 million from the United States.
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken chaired a Security Council session on Monday and urged the Council to reopen two Syrian border crossings – access to which has been closed since Russia blocked their reauthorization by the Security Council last year – to deliver aid to the people. At present, cross-border aid can only be delivered through one crossing. Blinken expressed frustration with the international community’s continued failure to resolve the Syrian crisis. Addressing the Russian government’s sovereignty-based objections to expanding cross-border aid, Blinken said that “sovereignty was never intended to ensure the right of any government to starve people, deprive them of life-saving medicine, bomb hospitals or commit any other human rights abuse against citizens.”