Hariri Arrives in Brussels to Attend Syria Aid Conference
Prime Minister Saad Hariri arrived Tuesday evening in Belgium to lead Lebanon's delegation to the second Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region, the National News Agency said.
“The conference will begin its works tomorrow morning and Hariri will deliver a speech during the opening session in which he will tackle the issue of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and the international community's role in aiding Lebanon to cope with the burden of this refugee presence,” NNA added.
Hariri is accompanied by an official delegation comprised of Deputy Premier and Health Minister Ghassan Hasbani, Education Minister Marwan Hamadeh, State Minister for Refugee Affairs Moein al-Merehbi, Social Affairs Minister Pierre Bou Assi, and the premier's advisers Nader Hariri and Nadim al-Monla.
An Nahar newspaper reported Tuesday that Lebanon is counting on the conference for financial, logistical and material assistance in order to enable itself to continue to bear the huge burden of the displaced Syrians.
The Lebanese delegation will hold meetings with foreign government ministers and will highlight the situation of displaced people in countries neighboring Syria, seeking to increase international contributions to the effort of hosting the refugees.
The head of the U.N. aid agency said Tuesday $8 billion need to be raised at the conference.
Mark Lowcock, the head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), said resources for work inside Syria and with refugees in neighboring countries were "desperately short."
Programs may have to be cut back if funds are not forthcoming, he warned.
Donor countries, aid groups and U.N. agencies are meeting for the seventh international conference on Syria's future as the conflict, now in its eighth year, shows no sign of letting up.
Ministers will gather to make financial commitments on Wednesday, with EU and U.N. officials hoping for to do better than the $6 billion pledged last year.
"We're looking for $3.5 billion for urgent humanitarian assistance inside Syria for 13 million people and then $5.6 billion to help those countries bordering Syria who are hosting refugees," Lowcock told AFP, saying around $1.2 billion had already been raised.
"Overall tomorrow what we're looking for is $8 billion."
In 2017 and 2016 UNOCHA managed to raise only half of the money it needed for work in Syria, with donor countries increasingly under pressure to help out in other crises rather than the protracted, bloody Syrian civil war.