European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Thursday that the EU would not have chosen the path of normalizing its relations with the Syrian regime as the Arab League did, stressing at an international conference in the Belgian capital Brussels to support Syrian refugees that the international community cannot ignore the plight of these refugees.
Borrell said in his speech to the conference "Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region" that the conditions are not available to change the European Union's policy towards Syria, and stressed that the Union "will not retreat from supporting the Syrian people."
Al Jazeera's correspondent in Brussels said that the issue of Syrian refugees was expected to dominate the closing day of the conference to support Syria, but the issue of Damascus' return to the Arab League dominated the day's discussions.
Borrell said that the European Union countries did not wish the Arab League to normalize its relations with the Syrian regime (last month), and the EU countries fear that this normalization will exclude the possibility of implementing UN Resolution 2254 on resolving the Syrian crisis, but said that the Union is ready to discuss all means of political settlement in Syria.
The European official also spoke about the Union's provision of financial support to meet the needs of Syrian refugees worth one billion and 500 million euros this year, and 300 million euros next year.
However, international organizations and some Arab countries hosting Syrian refugees see this European support as insufficient.
The international conference aimed at raising funds for Syria, which has been hit by a powerful earthquake this year, exacerbates its dire plight since the outbreak of conflict in 2011, concludes today at EU headquarters in Brussels.
Three UN officials overseeing humanitarian response efforts in Syria described the needs in Syria as huge, saying that only one-tenth of the funding requested has been secured so far for 3 projects to help Syrians inside and refugees in the region.
Martin Griffiths, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner made the statement.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, says more than 14 million Syrians have fled their homes since 2011, and some 6.8 million people displaced inside Syria, where almost the entire population lives below the poverty line, remain below the poverty line.
Some 5.5 million Syrian refugees live in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.
The United Nations World Food Program announced on Tuesday that it had been forced to cut its food aid to Syrians by about half due to a lack of funding, reducing its aid to about 2.5 million people from about 5.5 million who were dependent on the program's aid.