GENEVA: The suffering of millions of Syrians caught up in their homeland’s civil war is a “stain” on the world’s conscience, European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso said Monday.
“The pain and suffering of the Syrian people is beyond what we can tolerate. It is a stain on the world’s conscience,” Barroso told reporters after talks with the International Committee of the Red Cross.
His comments came as the European Commission said it would provide 85 million euros ($120 million) in humanitarian aid for people affected by Syria’s civil war.
The funds are part of a 400-million-euro pledge from Europe following a United Nations appeal made in June, which has proved difficult to finance amid problems with an overrun budget for the 28-nation bloc.
Some 6.8 million Syrians, around a third of the prewar population, now rely on humanitarian aid. Close to half are children.
“This is unacceptable,” the EC head said.
More than 115,000 people are estimated to have been killed since the revolt against President Bashar Assad broke out in March 2011, and over 2 million have fled abroad.
European governments say aid efforts must focus on Syria’s immediate region and have spent 2 billion euros on crisis operations.
U.N. investigators have accused both sides in Syria of breaking the laws of war and hampering aid, and Barroso echoed those concerns.
“Attacks against civilians, including humanitarian workers, are unacceptable,” he said.
The risks were made starkly clear by the Oct. 13 kidnapping of six Red Cross staff and a Syrian Red Crescent employee, allegedly by an Al-Qaeda-linked group.
Three ICRC staff and the Red Crescent volunteer were released a day later, but three are still in captivity.
“We’re still hoping for, and working toward, as early as possible, a release,” ICRC head Peter Maurer said.