Japan PM Shinzo Abe pledges S$3.13 billion non-military Mideast aid

CAIRO (AFP) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged Saturday US$2.5 billion (S$3.13 billion) in non-military aid for the Middle East as he launched a regional tour that includes visits to Jordan and Israel.

In a speech in Cairo, Abe also pledged US$200 million in non-military assistance for states affected by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria's (ISIS) bloody expansion in Iraq and Syria, which triggered an exodus of refugees to neighbouring countries.

"Japan will newly carry out assistance of 2.5 billion US dollars in non-military fields including humanitarian assistance and infrastructure development, intended for the entire region," Abe said, according to an official transcript.

He said Japan would "provide assistance for refugees and displaced persons from Iraq and Syria".

"I will pledge assistance of a total of about 200 million US dollars for those countries contending with ISIL (ISIS), to help build their human capacities, infrastructure, and so on," he added.

A Japanese foreign ministry official told AFP that much of those funds would go towards assisting neighbouring states hosting refugees.

The United Nations has warned that the number of Syrian refugees could shoot up to 4.27 million by December from the current figure of more than three million.

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