Syrian relief matching fund topped off to reach $100M target

April 13, 2016

By Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press | $32 million matched by Liberals will go directly to UNICEF for the education of Syrian children.

Keeping secret the names of agencies inside Syria receiving millions in Canadian aid money is part of a commitment to keep Canada’s military and development objectives separate, the international development minister says.

But Canadians should not worry that the money is going to directly assist Islamic militants, Marie-Claude Bibeau said.

The Liberals announced $100 million in aid for programs in Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon on Wednesday, with $32 million coming from a program launched last fall that saw the government pledge to match donations from Canadians to Syrian relief.

The previous Conservative government had said they would match donations up to $100 million and the Liberals agreed to honour that commitment and extended the program beyond its original end-of-2015 deadline to spur more donations from the public.

The fact the end result was nowhere near $100 million shouldn’t be seen as a negative, Bibeau said, given the fact Canadians have been donating to support relief efforts since the civil war began in Syria in 2011.

“Considering the type of crisis, the type of event, it is a very significant contribution from Canadians,” she said.

Aid to be spread around

The matching funds will be given directly to UNICEF to support education for Syrian children in Jordan and in Syria and to run a vaccination program in that country.

The remaining $68 million is being divvied up, with $23.5 million to be spent directly in Syria on projects including helping farmers get their farms back up and running, counselling and support for survivors of sexual violence, provision of primary health care and the establishment of field hospitals in the northern part of the country.

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