Washington (AFP) – US President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced an extra $155m to aid refugees fleeing what he said was “barbarism” propagated by the Assad government against Syrians.
Obama, unveiling a grant, which will take US humanitarian help to Syrians to $365m, also promised that the Assad regime “will come to an end. The Syrian people will have their chance to forge their own future.”
“I want to speak directly to the people of Syria,” Obama said, addressing the Syrian people in a YouTube video with Arabic subtitles.
“This new aid will mean more warm clothing for children and medicine for the elderly, flour and wheat for your families and blankets, boots and stoves for those huddled in damaged buildings,” Obama said.
“It will mean health care for victims of sexual violence and field hospitals for the wounded. Even as we work to end the violence against you, this aid will help address some of the immediate needs you face each day.”
The US announcement followed an appeal for funding by United Nations humanitarian operations director John Ging ahead of a donor conference in Kuwait on Wednesday.
Ging said that the UN would be forced to cut already reduced food rations to hundreds of thousands of Syrians absent a huge cash injection.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will seek more than $1.5bn in new cash pledges at the Kuwait conference.
Washington has resisted calls to directly arm rebels battling the Assad government, fearing that US weapons could filter to terror groups including Al-Qaeda and worsen the bloodshed which has seen 60,000 people killed.
It has provided intelligence and logistics support and officially recognized the Syrian Opposition Coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.
The aid announced Tuesday will target severe food shortages and emergency health care and heating needs inside Syria, including for 400,000 Palestinian refugees in the country affected by the violence.
It also includes funding for refugee programs for Syrians who have fled the unrest and are imposing pressure on regional nations, including Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.