With the ongoing conflict in Syria leaving millions without access to basic human necessities, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the United States committed an additional $600 million in humanitarian aid to the cause at a United Nations Conference on Thursday. The aid increase includes an additional $290 million to improve educational resources for people in Lebanon and Jordan.
The suffering of Syria's people "should tear at the conscience of all civilized people, and we all have a responsibility to respond to it," Kerry said via The New York Times. "We are compelled to respond to the immediate needs on the ground, and we're doing so today."
The additional aid to the Syrian people will be used to supply them with emergency food, medical supplies, and other necessities. The pledge brings the U.S. aid to Syria total to $5.1 billion since 2011, making the U.S. the largest provider of humanitarian aid to the Syrians during the period.
The commitment occurred at a U.N. conference to discuss the Syrian crisis. Other wealthy nations also announced additional aid packages to Syria, including $2.6 billion from Germany and $1.8 billion from Great Britain. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron called the commitment "life-saving aid."
Sixty nations, including thirty world leaders, attended the conference to discuss solutions to help end the Syrian crisis. Geneva peace talks to end the fighting in Syria were recently suspending without any cause. Kerry expressed optimism that the peace talks would continue later in February.
"Credit where it's due, now let's turn pledges into action," David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, said in a press release.
Non-governmental aid organizations like the International Rescue Committee have also played a key role in Syria. Since the start of the crisis, the IRC has been on the ground supplying aid, resources, and support to rebuild facilities for those in need.
"The major and welcome commitments made at this conference will only be meaningful to the Syrian people, whether inside Syria or in neighboring countries, if the pledges are turned into action," Miliband added.
In addition to the International Rescue Committee, other humanitarian charities that are helping Syrians include the American Refugee Committee, Doctors Without Borders USA and Save the Children.