Baird: Situation in Syria ‘tremendously horrifying’

The situation in Syria is “tremendously horrifying,” Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said on Saturday as Canada pledged a new round of funding to help those affected by the crisis.

The ongoing battle between rebels and the military that has consumed Syria for the past 17 months has forced tens of thousands to flee to neighbouring countries, including Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird greets a Syrian refugee boy at Zaatari refugee camp, in Mafraq, Jordan.

Jordan hosts 150,000 displaced Syrians, more than any other country, and at least 3,300 of them are housed in the Zaatari refugee camp, which Baird toured as part of a three-day tour of the region.

On Saturday Canada announced that it will provide Jordan with $6.5 million in new assistance to help meet its needs in responding to the crisis.

Baird said Canada will also donate $1.5 million to the World Food Program in Jordan and $2 million to Canadian Relief for Syria, which will provide medical supplies for doctors in the country.

“Canada is deeply concerned about the impact of the Syrian crisis on neighbouring countries,” Baird said in a statement. “Neighbouring countries have been served a crisis on their doorsteps, and Canada is happy to lend its support to their generosity.”

Since the Syrian uprising began in March, Canada has provided $8.5 million in aid to help the Syrian people.

In addition, Canada has decried the Syrian military’s action and has implemented tough sanctions, Baird said. Canada has also provided non-lethal support to the opposition, primarily through assisting the Syrian National Council opposition group.

According to Baird and his Jordanian counterpart, Nasser Judeh, the crisis can only be solved through political intervention.

“It is now more important than ever that the international community act decisively and in unison to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis before instability and chaos spread throughout the region,” Baird said in an earlier statement.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday arrived in Turkey for talks on the Syrian crisis.

Arab foreign ministers are expected to meet in Saudi Arabia on Sunday to discuss the developments in Syria. They’re also slated to talk about selecting a replacement for Kofi Annan, the United Nations envoy to the Arab League.

Annan stepped down earlier this month, saying he has received no support from world powers to take decisive action over the escalating violence in Syria.

Source: Canada TV

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