On 12 and 13 March, during the third Brussels Conference "Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region", the EU will welcome an unprecedented number of representatives of Syrian, regional and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society to meet with relevant ministers/principals and decision-makers from the countries neighbouring Syria, donor countries, and UN agencies. No fewer than 800 participants will gather during the Days of Dialogue.
This event highlights the crucial role of civil society organisations, NGOs and partner organisations in delivering assistance to people affected by the conflict, in both Syria and the region. It represents an opportunity for them to discuss key priorities and needs and to formulate concrete recommendations to the governments and stakeholders concerned. Participants will exchange views in order to identify major challenges, share best practices, and to maximise the effectiveness of political and financial support.
The Days of Dialogue will build on the results of earlier consultations and explore the following themes:
1. Economic and civic empowerment of youth
2. Displacements and comprehensive solutions
3. Regional socio-economic recovery
5. Justice and social cohesion
6. Education and child protection
The key takeaways of the Days of Dialogue event will be presented by local NGOs and civil society organisations to foreign ministers on 14 March.
On the same occasion, there will be a photo exhibition on the European Parliament Esplanade, displaying portraits of Syrian, Iraqi, Jordanian, and Lebanese beneficiaries of EU projects funded by EU Trust Fund in Response to the Syria Crisis, which will run until 18 March.
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EU Response to the most urgent life-saving needs
As the Syria crisis enters its ninth year, the magnitude of human suffering remains unacceptable, with more than 11.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Since March 2011, more than 400 000 Syrians have lost their lives and more than one million have been injured. Around 6.2 million people have fled their homes inside Syria and 5.6 million have been forced to take refuge in neighbouring countries.
Civilians continue to be the primary victims of the conflict with children and young people comprising more than half of the displaced population. In 2018, various military offensives resulted in thousands of people newly displaced. At the same time, aid convoys have been prevented from delivering assistance to those who need help the most such as children, the elderly, disabled people, and those with illnesses.
The EU and its Member States are lead providers of international aid to those affected by the Syria conflict. To date, millions of people have been reached by EU humanitarian assistance.
However, in large swathes of the country aid workers have been unable to deliver humanitarian assistance due to continued fighting along shifting frontlines, bureaucratic hurdles, and ongoing violations of international humanitarian law. In addition to humanitarian access, protection of civilians remains a critical concern in large parts of Syria.
Inside Syria, almost half of the EU’s humanitarian assistance goes to immediate life-saving and emergency humanitarian operations; the rest is spent providing safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, food, child protection activities, education, psycho-social support, and other essential services for the people in need.
The neighbouring countries of Syria, in particular Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, but also Egypt and Iraq, currently host millions of Syrian refugees. The EU provides humanitarian assistance, through its implementing partners, to improve the often dire living conditions of the displaced Syrian refugees. It addresses the most basic needs for the most vulnerable including health, food, shelter, water and sanitation, psychosocial support and protection programmes, and education in emergency.