April the 5th marked the end of the two-day "Supporting the Future of Syria and the region Brussels conference".
The conference was co-chaired by the European Union and the United Nations. Participants representing some of most important stakeholders in delivering humanitarian aid inside Syria were 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 from the governments of the USA, Germany, Norway, UK, and the European Commission.
The conference called to attention the huge scale of humanitarian needs of vulnerable people inside Syria and in the region, noting UN-coordinated appeals requesting $8 billion in 2017 to cover assistance and protection needs inside Syria as well as in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. The conference acknowledged the continuing generosity of neighbouring host countries and their communities in providing refuge to millions of displaced people.
Participants agreed that in order to meet the massive needs of populations inside Syria and in neighbouring countries and strengthen the resilience of host communities, significant financial support and innovative and holistic approaches are needed.
At the end of two long days of talks, Christos Stylianides, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management announced a common pledging of $6 billion (€5.6 billion) for 2017:
"Our conference is sending a powerful message: we are not letting down the people of Syria. Delegations present here in Brussels have made a collective pledge of 6 billion dollars for this year alone. These committments are significant. They demonstrate the determination of the international community to support the people of Syria. To show concrete solidarity. To deliver. Standing united we can make a difference. Now we have to move beyond declarations. We have to act. To implement these pledges. As soon as possible."
/echo/file/supporting-future-syria-and-region-concluding-remarks-commissioner-stylianides_enSupporting the Future of Syria and the region - Concluding remarks by Commissioner Stylianides
The conference collected further multi-year pledges of $3.73 billion (€3.47 billion) for 2018-2020 to help Syria. In addition, some international financial institutions and donors announced around $30 billion (€27.9 billion) in concessional loans. Co-chairs and others agreed to widen the resource base and ensure greater predictability, coherence and effectiveness of the aid by translating the Grand Bargain commitments made at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016 in Istanbul into action to deliver concrete benefits for the people affected by the Syrian conflict.
In the conclusions of the conference, the participants recognised that the protection of civilians remains paramount. Participants condemned the continued violations and abuses of international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law by parties involved in the conflict, including the deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure, in particular medical and educational infrastructure and places of worship, and sexual and gender based violence.
The conference noted the findings of the UN Headquarters Board of Inquiry on the UN-Syrian Arab Red Crescent convoy. In addition, participants condemned the atrocities committed by ISIL/Daesh and other UN-designated terrorist groups and reaffirmed their strong commitment to defeat them. The EU and the UN called for support in the implementation of the UNGA Resolution 71/248 establishing an International Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) to ensure accountability for such systematic, widespread and gross violations and abuses of IHL and human rights in Syria.
Participants praised the work of Syrian, regional and international aid organisations, and called on those responsible on the ground to ensure that humanitarian relief and medical workers can deliver assistance without facing the risk of violence. Neighbouring countries were called upon to continue to facilitate humanitarian access.
Read the full conference declaration.