WASHINGTON – Russia, an arms provider and principal player in the ongoing Syrian civil war, is doing far too little to help the war's millions of victims, international humanitarian agencies say.
As world powers pledged new aid Wednesday at a donors conference in Kuwait, humanitarian groups said Moscow had been a standout in its failure to contribute adequately to the struggling international effort to help the injured and displaced.
Russia has contributed about $24 million toward the United Nations appeal, about 5% of what it should give based on its size, according to Oxfam America. It didn't make any pledge at the conference in Kuwait, though aid officials said it was possible it might pledge more in the next few days.
Russia "has made only minimal contributions," Amnesty International said.
Overall, $2.4 billion was pledged in Kuwait, less than half the $6.5 billion sought by the United Nations. The U.N. considers the 34-month-old conflict one of the worst since World War II, and its appeal is the largest ever.
Though officials fear the war could continue to rage for years, much of the world is already suffering donor fatigue, including some nations that are intimately involved in the conflict.
Russia, determined to maintain its strategic foothold in the Middle East, has provided arms and political protection to the embattled Syrian government of President Bashar Assad. In recent months, it has also been working with U.S. officials searching for a diplomatic solution to the war, and leading the effort to rid Syria of its chemical weapons arsenal.
Japan, usually a pillar of international aid campaigns, has also been a laggard on Syria. It has given about $137.4 million to the campaign, or 31% of what Oxfam said it should have given based on its size.
The big contributor in Kuwait was the United States, which promised $380 million, making its total commitment $1.7 billion. Kuwait's $500-million pledge was the largest at the conference. Britain, which offered $164 million, was another top giver.
"The needs for Syrians now facing three years of conflict are immense," said Noah Gottschalk of Oxfam America. "We're talking about millions of people who need the basic essentials day in and day out. They've gone through incredible struggles and they're not going home any time soon."