Syria talks: 'Bombing does not help' Cameron told as world leaders pledge funds

Over 30 world leaders attended today's conference and 60 countries were representedReuters

David Cameron launched a donor conference in Westminster today pleading other countries to help address the "a critical shortfall in life-saving aid".

However, the Middle East head for Christian Aid and a former Ambassador to Lebanon, said the "real push" must be towards building peace.

"We can't lose sight of the fact this conference is about Syria and the plight of the people of Syria," Frances Guy told Christian Today.

"I have spoken to many refugees and what they are all saying is, 'Stop the bombing and give us money to start re-building.'"

Guy's comments came hours after the latest round of peace talks broke down. The UN-brokered discussions between the Syrian regime and opposition parties are expected to resume on February 25 but Staffan de Mistura, the UN's special envoy at the talks, acknowledged little progress had been made.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the talks were "undermined by the continuous lack of sufficient humanitarian access, and by a sudden increase of aerial bombings and military activities within Syria".

He urged the warring sides to "get back to the table, not to secure more gains on the battlefields".


Speaking to Christian Today during the conference, Guy said the "pledges so far have been generous" but the focus must be on reaching a peace settlement.

On the first day of the two-day conference, the EU pledged over $3.3 bn (€3bn; £2.3bn), Germany $2.6bn, the UK $1.7bn and the US $925m. The goal is to reach $9bn (£6.2bn) for refugees affected by the Syrian war and also for those in Syria.


However Guy pointed out the policy of bombing targets in Syria, which is employed by many of the 60 countries present, has meant "the situation has got much worse and violent" especially since the Russian bombing campaign began.

However any "bombing does not help", she said.

"I would like to ask Mr Cameron how much the bombing campaign in Syria costs compared to how much aid we've given," she said.

Patricia Mouamar, a Lebanese aid-worker for World Vision, agreed with Guy.

Although today's funding pledges "will definitely make a big difference", she told Christian Today the "main thing we need to be focusing on" is building peace.

"All the refugees I spoke to shared one thing in common," she said. "They all want to go back to Syria."

Today's conference focuses on education and jobs for the 4.6 million Syrian refugees living in neighbouring countries.

Mouamar, who works daily with Syian refugees in Lebanon, said "education is definitely a particular need for child refugees".

She said less than half of Syrian child refugees are receiving schooling and "a whole generation of children is being left behind". These children are the future Syrian leaders, she told Christian Today.

"What kind of generation are we leaving behind?"