Billions pledged to help refugees inside Syria and on borders

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Numbers returning to Syria likely to exceed those leaving for first time during conflict

Foreign ministers have pledged as much as $7bn (£5.3bn) to help Syrian refugees inside the country and on its borders, as European officials consider the possibility of large-scale refugee returns later this year if Russia can persuade Bashar al-Assad to stop his regime’s systematic intimidation and obstruction.

The $7bn is short of the UN’s 2019 target of $8.8bn, but an improvement on the pledges made at this time last year. The $7bn total also includes $1.5bn previously pledged to Turkey as part of a two-stage commitment to reduce the number of refugees reaching Europe.

Related: Russian and Syrian airstrikes intensify on rebel-held Idlib

Related: Syria’s ‘disappeared’: families demand to know fate of their loved ones

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Link : Billions pledged to help refugees inside Syria and on borders

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