Obama Announces New Humanitarian Aid for the Syrian People
U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced an extra $155 million dollars to aid refugees fleeing what he said was "barbarism" propagated by the Assad government against Syrians, AFP reported.
Obama, unveiling a grant which will take U.S. humanitarian help to Syrians to $365 million, also promised that the Assad regime "will come to an end. The Syrian people will have their chance to forge their own future."
"I want to speak directly to the people of Syria," Obama said, addressing the Syrian people in a YouTube video.
"This new aid will mean more warm clothing for children and medicine for the elderly, flour and wheat for your families and blankets, boots and stoves for those huddled in damaged buildings," Obama said.
"It will mean health care for victims of sexual violence and field hospitals for the wounded. Even as we work to end the violence against you, this aid will help address some of the immediate needs you face each day."
The U.S. announcement followed an appeal for funding by United Nations humanitarian operations director John Ging ahead of a donor conference in Kuwait on Wednesday.
Ging said that the UN would be forced to cut already reduced food rations to hundreds of thousands of Syrians absent a huge cash injection.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will seek more than $1.5 billion in new cash pledges at the Kuwait conference, AFP reported.
Washington has resisted calls to directly arm rebels battling the Assad government, fearing that U.S. weapons could filter to terror groups including Al-Qaeda and worsen the bloodshed which has seen 60,000 people killed.
It has provided intelligence and logistics support and officially recognized the Syrian Opposition Coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.
Obama said in an interview published on Monday that he was wrestling with a decision on whether the U.S. should get involved to resolve the conflict in Syria.
"In a situation like Syria, I have to ask, can we make a difference in that situation?" he said in an interview with the New Republic magazine.
"Would a military intervention have an impact? How would it affect our ability to support troops who are still in Afghanistan? What would be the aftermath of our involvement on the ground? Could it trigger even worse violence or the use of chemical weapons? What offers the best prospect of a stable post-Assad regime? And how do I weigh tens of thousands who've been killed in Syria versus the tens of thousands who are currently being killed in the Congo?"
"And what I have to constantly wrestle with is where and when can the United States intervene or act in ways that advance our national interest, advance our security, and speak to our highest ideals and sense of common humanity," Obama said.
"And as I wrestle with those decisions, I am more mindful probably than most of not only our incredible strengths and capabilities, but also our limitations," he added.
The 22-month Syrian uprising has left over 60,000 dead, according to the United Nations.