Check Against Delivery
It is my great pleasure to welcome all of you here in Brussels. For this Conference on "Supporting the future of Syria and the region".
The Syrian people continue to live in a tragic situation. The fear, the despair, the agony characterize the everyday life of Syrians.
At the same time, the peace efforts have so far failed. Despite the ceasefire agreed last December, the fighting continues. With more suffering. With more displacements.
The future of Syria and the future of the region is unknown. And the prospects for regional stability without peace in Syria are zero.
Seven years after the beginning of this conflict, this is the hard reality. This is the reality we continue to confront. As an international community. As a humanitarian family.
This reality makes it very painful for all of us to be here. We already had three (3) conferences in Kuwait. And the London Conference last year.
Unfortunately, today, instead of talking about the day after the conflict, we will discuss the devastating needs as a result of the war.
Instead of talking about how to rebuild Syria, we will discuss ways to access vulnerable people.
Instead of talking about the long-term prospects of the new generation of Syrians, we will discuss how to prevent a lost generation.
We are here to make another effort to address these huge humanitarian challenges in Syria. To show, once again, our concrete solidarity with the Syrian people.
That is why the European Union is hosting this conference. Co-chaired by the United Nations, Germany, Kuwait, Norway, Qatar and the United Kingdom.
It is our moral duty. It is our responsibility as international community. To re-affirm our commitment to the people of Syria: that we will continue our support for as long as it takes.
Our message to all Syrians is clear and simple: we are standing by you. We will not let you down.
I want to pay tribute to you. To your organisations. And to all the humanitarian workers in the field. Day after day, you and your colleagues provide vital assistance to the people in need.
But I want to pay special tribute to the brave humanitarian workers. To our brave humanitarian colleagues who lost their lives. While saving those of others.
These relief workers are the real heroes of this war. And let me underline that a lot of them are Syrians.
That is why I am particularly pleased to have representatives of Syrian organisations here with us today. A warm welcome to all of you.
Your brave work. Your determination and your commitment are admirable. You’re an example for humanity. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Our common mission is clear: to deliver aid to people in need. Something so difficult to achieve under these tragic circumstances. Because of the massive needs. Because of the unprecedented challenges you face on the ground.
This is a conflict characterized by a deliberate targeting of humanitarian workers. Of humanitarian aid. This is totally unacceptable.
At the same time, humanitarian access is at a new low. Due to continued, deliberate obstructions. By all parties to the conflict.
You all remember East Aleppo. Where no aid could enter for months. Despite our collective calls. Despite our best efforts, humanitarian access was denied. More "Aleppos" are everywhere in Syria:
The Four Towns.
The scale of the suffering requires more action. It requires a common response.
This is our main topic today. How can we do better at addressing the needs and the challenges? How can we do better so that our aid has the maximum impact?
You will hear from distinguished speakers from across the humanitarian community. International and Syrian NGOs. The Red Cross and the UN agencies. And also donors.
They will explain where they see the biggest gaps and constraints in the response. And how to best address them. How to ensure access to those most in need. How to ensure protection of civilians. But also of relief and medical workers.
It is important that we reach conclusions which can contribute in making the humanitarian response more effective.
I have said it many times before: there is no humanitarian solution to this crisis. Only a political solution can end the human suffering.
The European Union fully supports the UN-led efforts in Geneva. Until we reach a political solution, our support to the Syrian people must continue. They need us more than ever. And we have a moral duty to stand by them.
The EU as a host of this conference but also as leading donor will continue to take its responsibility. OUR responsibility.
I wish you a productive discussion.
Thank you for your attention.