India donates $2.5 mn for Syrian refugees

Kuwait City, Jan 30 (IANS) India Wednesday pledged a donation of $2.5 million as humanitarian assistance for over two million Syrians displaced by the ongoing conflict in the country.

The announcement was made by Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed at an international conference of donors on Syria, inaugurated by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The Indian minister said the conference was an important initiative of the UN to support the humanitarian needs of the Syrian people.

The Indian assistance could be in the form of life saving drugs, food and other essential items.

At the same time, Minister Ahamed expressed India's opposition to foreign military intervention in Syria.

He said at a reception hosted by the Indian mission here that India wanted the people of Syria to decide their own future.

Some 60,000 people have been killed since the conflict between the government of Bashar al-Assad and US-backed opposition groups determined to topple him began nearly two years ago.

Some four million Syrians in Syria are in need of food, shelter and other aid, according to UN figures. More than 700,000 have escaped to Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt.

India has closely followed the developments in Syria and is "deeply concerned" about the hardships and sufferings of the people of Syria as a result of violence in the country.

The conference here was attended by King Abdullah of Jordan, the presidents of Lebanon and Tunisia as well as ministers and special envoys of 55 countries. Representatives of aid agencies also took part.

India has already responded positively to the humanitarian needs of the Syrian people and decided to provide humanitarian assistance in the form of life saving drugs and fortified biscuits.

At the meeting, the UN chief said the situation in Syria was catastrophic and getting worse.

Ban urged warring factions in Syria to end the violence. He said Syria's problem can be resolved only politically.

He urged the international community to donate liberally to raise $1.5 billion to provide humanitarian assistance to the displaced Syrians.

Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed announced $300 million contribution while the US pledged $155 million.

The new commitment will bring the total US assistance to $365 million, making it the single largest donor.

Sheikh Sabah expressed dismay that the UN and Arab League Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi's peace efforts had come to naught.

He said the gravity and the magnitude of the disaster required united efforts for "our Syrian brethren".

(Sheikh Manzoor can be contacted at ahmedsmanzoor@gmail.com)

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