The conflict in Syria has triggered the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Refugees from Syria are the biggest refugee population from a single conflict in a generation, with over 5.5 million having fled to neighbouring countries. Lebanon, with over 850,000 registered Syrian refugees, and Jordan, with 650,000, host the largest numbers of registered refugees per capita in the world.
Turkey hosts the largest number of registered Syrian refugees in the world, 3.6 million. Iraq and Egypt host large numbers of Syrian refugees along with refugees from many other countries, and on top of the estimated 1.4 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the case of Iraq. The EU is the leading donor in the international response to the Syrian crisis, with more than €20 billion collectively mobilised in aid from the EU and Member States since 2011.
The Trust Fund
The EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis pools an increasing share of the EU's aid to the region into one single and flexible instrument. The Fund primarily addresses educational, economic, social and health needs of Syrian refugees while also supporting overstretched local communities and their administrations. The Trust Fund is a key instrument for the delivery of the EU's pledges made at the London conference on Syria in 2016 and the Brussels conferences on the Future of Syria and the Region in April 2017 and 2018, March 2019, and June 2020. It also underpins the special EU Compacts agreed with Jordan and Lebanon outlining joint efforts to improve the living conditions of both Syrian refugees and vulnerable host communities.
The Trust Fund could also be asked to address needs and provide support in a post-conflict Syria, subject to a credible political transition firmly underway, in line with UNSC Resolution 2254/2015.
The EU Regional Trust Fund has two governing bodies: a Trust Fund Board, which establishes and reviews the overall strategy of the Trust Fund; and an Operational Board, which decides on the allocation of funds to individual Actions.
The composition and voting rights of both bodies are detailed in the Trust Fund's revised Constitutive Agreement.
In line with the priorities set out at the London conference on Syria in 2016, the Brussels conferences on the Future of Syria and the Region in April 2017 and 2018, March 2019 and June 2020, and the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework adopted in 2016 as part of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, the main objectives of the EU Trust Fund are to foster more self-reliance of refugees, helping them thrive, not just survive, while at the same time assisting the countries and communities hosting them.
In doing so, the EU Trust Fund bridges the nexus between humanitarian relief and development aid:
- It addresses early recovery, as well as resilience and self-reliance needs of refugees and IDPs, in a manner that also benefits local communities, and preserves the stability of neighbouring countries.
- It supports countries hosting refugees by investing in health and education, economic development, job creation and integration into labour markets, for both local communities and refugees, especially vulnerable groups such as women and youth.