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    European Commission, Italy Launch First EU Regional Trust Fund for Syria

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    According to the statement, European Commission and Italy have launched the first ever regional European Union trust fund to mobilize more aid for Syrians.

    MOSCOW, December 15 (Sputnik) — The European Commission (EC) and Italy have launched the first ever regional European Union trust fund to mobilize more aid for Syrians amid the ongoing civil war in the country, the commission said in a statement Monday.

    "The new EU Trust Fund will allow the EU and its Member States to pool our resources into one single and flexible mechanism to better respond to the growing needs of [Syrian] refugees and of the countries hosting them," Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy Johannes Hahn, was quoted as saying in the statement on the commission"s website.

    According to the statement, the EU fund will begin by focusing on support for the refugees and neighboring host countries, in particular Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, whose economies have been strained by the influx of Syrians fleeing the conflict. Currently there are 3.2 million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries, according to the United Nations.

    The start-up funding provided for the trust is 23 million euros (about $28 million), with additional funding expected in 2015.

    Hahn added in the statement that the multidimensional crisis in Syria posed a security threat to the EU and that the commission would support efforts for a political solution.

    "Already today the conflict has direct consequences for EU security, notably through foreign fighters, illegal migration and the polarisation between religious communities. This is why we need to provide a more coherent and enhanced response," Hahn was quoted as saying in the statement.

    The civil war has been raging in Syria since 2011, when nationwide anti-government protests turned into an armed uprising. The Syrian government is currently battling a number of insurgent groups, including Islamic State jihadists. The death toll from the conflict now stands at nearly 200,000, according to UN estimates.


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