As part of the Brussels Conference "Supporting the future of Syria and the region" the event "Humanitarian Aid Inside Syria: Needs, Challenges & the Way Forward" took place on 4 April in Brussels. The event had two main objectives:
- To reflect on advancing the humanitarian front taking into account the humanitarian situation inside Syria and the main challenges of the humanitarian response, specifically access and protection for the most vulnerable
- To identify solutions, and recommendations of necessary commitments on how to effectively deliver principled and needs-based assistance across Syria amidst an increasingly polarised context.
In his opening speech, Commissioner Christos Stylianides stressed, "While our common mission is clear - delivering aid to people in need - it has rarely been so difficult to achieve because of the sheer scale of needs and because of the daunting challenges aid organisations face on the ground. Rarely in a conflict, has humanitarian aid been so deliberately targeted and challenged as in Syria. I hope that today's meeting can contribute to finding ways to make the humanitarian response more effective to at least alleviate the suffering.
There certainly cannot be a humanitarian solution to this crisis. Only a political solution can end the human suffering. That is the reason why the EU fully supports the UN-led efforts in Geneva. This said, our support to the people in need must also continue. They need us more than ever."
/echo/file/commissioner-stylianides-scale-suffering-requires-more-action_enCommissioner Stylianides: "The scale of the suffering requires more action"
Keynote speakers included Christos Stylianides, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Stephen O'Brien, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator (UN OCHA), and Ahmed Al Meraikhi, UN SG’s Humanitarian Envoy.
Speakers representing some of most important stakeholders in delivering humanitarian aid inside Syria were also present: UN bodies such as UNHCR, UNICEF, international and national organisations delivering aid (NRC, MDM, Syrian NGO Alliance, Syria Relief Network), and representatives of the donor community coming from the governments of the USA, Germany, Norway, UK, and the European Commission.
Following three in depth panel discussions, participants agreed on detailed operational recommendations in the following nine areas:
- Promoting respect for international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law to protect civilians and ensure accountability
- Ensuring principled humanitarian action based on priority needs
- Ensuring humanitarian access and humanitarian space
- Ensuring access to health and protection of humanitarian health workers
- Managing emergencies and adapting to risks
- Empowering civil society and local humanitarian action
- Supporting livelihoods and access to basic services of most vulnerable people as part of humanitarian assistance to strengthen resilience and self-reliance
- Ensuring sustainable and flexible financing
- Promoting transparency
The recommendations will be presented at the "Syria – Humanitarian Assistance and Resilience" session of the Brussels Syria Conference (5 April). The recommendations, among others, promote needs-based humanitarian aid delivery and compliance with humanitarian principles and international humanitarian law amongst all parties to the conflict.