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    Brussels to Host Third Donor Conference on Supporting Future of Syria

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    BRUSSELS (Sputnik) - A three-day conference on "Supporting the future of Syria and the region", also known as Brussels III, will open in the Belgian capital on Tuesday to financial aid pledges for 2019.

    Building on the two previous editions, the conference, organized by the European Union and the United Nations, will bring together participants from more than 85 countries and organizations at ministerial level.

    According to the Council of the European Union, the conference will start with one and a half days of dialogue, with over 1,000 participants, including civil society representatives from Syria and the region, donor countries and ministers and decision-makers from countries neighboring Syria, expected to attend.

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    The full list of participants has not been made public yet but the main high-level attendees have already been announced.

    They include EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock, President of the Council of Ministers of Lebanon Saad Hariri, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Jordan's Foreign and Expatriate Affairs Minister Ayman Safadi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will deliver a video message.

    Focus on Humanitarian Issues

    The purpose of the conference is to address the most critical humanitarian issues affecting Syrians both inside and outside the country, and to reaffirm financial support to the Syrian neighbors struggling most with the Syrian refugee crisis, in particular Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

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    Moreover, specific attention will be paid to the perspectives of the Syrian women, with Mogherini and Pedersen due to host a dinner with Syrian women on Wednesday, 13 March.

    The last day of the conference will be marked by the ministerial discussion and the pledging part. The European Union has been the top donor for Syria and the region, having mobilized over 17 billion euros (about $19 billion) in aid since 2011. Last year, Brussels II conference pledged 3.5 billion euros for 2018.

    Pledges for 2019

    UK Minister for Middle East Alistair Burt reportedly said on Saturday that the United Kingdom was going to pledge 400 million pounds (about $526 million) at Brussels III conference. Other participants have not revealed their plans so far.

    READ MORE: Damascus Not Invited to Brussels Conference on Syria — EU Source

    On Monday, Norwegian Refugee Council’s Middle East Regional Director Carsten Hansen called on the donor countries to provide funding based on needs alone, without discrimination to the areas controlled by the Syrian government.

    "About two-thirds of the people in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria now reside in areas controlled by the government. In addition to the restrictions imposed by the government on humanitarians, several donor countries have been reluctant to scale up funding for programs managed from Damascus. Our message to them is that people affected by war and displacement have the same right to assistance. It doesn’t matter if the government or an armed group controls the area, and it shouldn’t matter to donors," Hansen said as quoted by the NRC.

    Brussels III will take place just when the Syrian war enters its ninth year. Around 12 million people are in need inside the country, and almost 6 million refugees seek help in neighboring countries.

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