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US to provide Syria, Sahel, S/Sudan with aid

The US says it will provide hundreds of millions of Dollars in humanitarian assistance to Syria, Africa’s Sahel region and South Sudan.

Making the announcement on Thursday, Trump administration officials explained that more than 720 million Dollars would be given in response to the crisis in Syria, plus nearly 152 million Dollars for the volatile Sahel region and almost 108 million Dollars for South Sudan.

Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun told a gathering on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York that the money would go “both for Syrians inside the country and for those in desperate need across the region.”

At the same event, acting USAID Administrator John Barsa said the new funds for the Sahel would go to Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and Mauritania to help them cope with population displacements and food insecurity, due to  conflict in the region.

Mr. Biegun said the additional funds for Syria would bring total US support since the start of the crisis there to more than 12 billion Dollars.

A crackdown by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on protesters in 2011 led to civil war, with Iran and Russia backing the government and the US supporting the opposition. Millions have fled Syria and millions more have been internally displaced.

For his part, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed heavy rains, fighting between armed groups, food insecurity, a deteriorating economic situation, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, for compounding an already dire humanitarian crisis in South Sudan.

He said the funds for South Sudan would go to help South Sudanese in the country and in neighboring states.

In 2018, South Sudan formally ended five years of civil war that killed an estimated 400,000 people, caused a famine and created a massive refugee crisis. However, efforts to conclude a peace process have stalled.

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