03/31/2015 04:30 EDT | Updated 05/30/2015 05:59 EDT

Canada Pushed To Join Record Syria Aid Drive

OTTAWA - Canada urged international donors on Tuesday to swiftly deliver on their aid promises to Syria because the devastated country will need help after its civil war is over.

That message was delivered to United Nations donors conference in Kuwait by Diane Jacovella, who heads the Foreign Affairs Department's global issues and development branch.

She represented Canada at the pledging conference that had made a record $8.4-billion appeal for funds to respond to the Syrian civil war, which has left 220,000 dead and forced 11 million people from their homes.

The big donors who ponied up Tuesday were the United States at $507 million and the host Kuwait with $500 million. Reuters reported the pledging conference raised less than half its target, about $3.8 billion.

"Unless more donor countries massively step up in the wake of the conference, the increasing numbers of people fleeing their homes and struggling to survive will be less and less likely to receive assistance," said Andy Baker, who leads Oxfam's Syria response. "What does the international community expect millions of Syrians to survive on?"

On Tuesday, Oxfam called on Canada to pledge $180 million for 2015.

Canada promised no new money on Tuesday, but Jacovella strongly hinted more would be on the way. Canada has contributed $700 million to Syrian aid efforts since 2011.

Canada has contributed $50 million so far this year for food assistance, shelter, health, water and sanitation, Jacovella said.

"This commitment has been fully disbursed. Canada will continue to provide assistance in support of this humanitarian crisis," Jacovella said in prepared remarks.

Canada is committed to protecting children from harm, and ensuring that those forced from their homes can go to school, she said.

"In addition to our humanitarian funding, we hold that it is crucially important to simultaneously support governments and communities as they struggle to cope with immediate needs emanating from the crisis, recover from its impacts and sustain this recovery over the long-term," she said.

"For this reason we are actively addressing needs that go beyond emergency life-saving assistance alone."

The House of Commons foreign affairs committee said in a report tabled on Monday that Canada's response to the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant should be multi-pronged and include more support for Iraq's security forces and continuing aid for schools.

Canada has paid its pledges in full, said International Development Minister Christian Paradis, and other countries ought to do the same.

But NDP Foreign Affairs critic Paul Dewar said the government is "pushing the military side at the cost of the humanitarian mission."

Parliament voted this week to allow Canada to take part in U.S.-led air strikes on Syria for one more year.

— with files from Stephanie Levitz

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