The United States on Tuesday announced it has allocated an additional $12.8 million of humanitarian aid to Syria, bringing the country's total sum of humanitarian assistance provided to Syria to more than $52 million.
The announcement was made during a daily press briefing by U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner. He said Deputy Assistant Secretary Kelly Clements, who is of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, made the pledge for additional humanitarian assistance during a meeting in Geneva on Monday.
"This forum is the most recent in a series of meetings that's designed to maintain the international community's focus on the humanitarian needs of the Syrian people," Toner said. "And while there, she did announce another $12.8 million in assistance for those suffering from the violence in Syria, bringing the total U.S. Government humanitarian response to the Syrian crisis to just over $52 million."
In addition, Toner underlined the importance of bringing violence to an end before any political dialogue begins. "That's the initial step that we really need to have in place, a ceasefire, a credible ceasefire," he said.
Toner also said the United States continues to support the six-point plan proposed by United Nations (UN)-Arab League Special Envoy Kofi Annan, which calls for an end to violence, access for humanitarian agencies to provide relief to those in need, the release of detainees, the start of inclusive political dialogue that takes into account the aspirations of the Syrian people, and unrestricted access to the country for the international media.
"We believe that [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad needs to not be a part of that political dialogue, but that that political dialogue set forth by Annan would hopefully pave the way to a democratic transition," the spokesman said. "But again, initially, we need to get this - an end to the violence."
The crisis in Syria, which began in March 2011 as a protest movement similar to those across the Middle East and North Africa, has claimed over 9,000 lives, mostly civilians, and displaced tens of thousands of people.