“Suffering and displacement continue and few Syrians return to their communities; the economic crisis continues; the violence also continues, with the constant risk of escalation, even in what appears to be a military stalemate. Unfortunately, Syrians urgently need more support than ever”, affirmed this Tuesday the special envoy for Syria during the Conference for that country that is being held in Brussels.
Geir Pedersen participated in the two-day event organized by the European Union in order to raise the necessary funds to assist the Syrian people with their most urgent needs. Unlike other years, the UN participated but did not co-sponsor the conference due to the opposition of the European Union to the participation of Russia, a Member State of the United Nations and a fundamental actor in the search for a solution to the Syrian conflict.
On the closing day of the conclave, the envoy recalled that he and his predecessors have repeatedly advocated for a Stop the fire and for a political solution that addresses the legitimate aspirations of all Syrians and that respects the sovereignty, unity, independence and territorial integrity of Syria.
“But I will be frank: we are a long way from a political solution”, lamented Pedersen.
International crisis out of the foreground
The diplomat emphasized that the one in Syria continues to be an international crisis that requires global attention but which has taken a backseat to the war in Ukraine, thus hampering the search for peace and increasing the suffering of the Syrians.
According to UN data, over 90% of Syrians live in poverty. Gender-based violence and risks to children are on the rise. Exposure to explosive devices remains high. Food insecurity has reached new records with twelve million people going hungry.
Also, almost half of the children do not go to school and it is vulnerable to child labour, early and forced marriage, trafficking and recruitment by armed actors.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports 26.5 million people in need of humanitarian aid: 14.6 million in Syria -1.2 million more than in 2021-, and twelve million in the countries of the region that host them, including the 5.6 million refugees.
Investment is also needed for reconstruction
In a joint statement to the Conference, the head of OCHA, Martin Griffiths; the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi; and the administrator of the Development Program (UNDP), Achim Steiner, highlighted that, in addition to humanitarian assistanceinvestments in early recovery are required to rebuild the country.
“Invest in communities, including sustainable livelihoods, and improve safe access to basic services, will support socio-economic resilience and social cohesion and it will give Syrians the opportunity to live with dignity and secure a future for their children”, assured the three senior officials.
Agencies reported that needs have increased since 2020 to currently reach its highest point from the start of the conflict.
Refugees and host communities
Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypthost most of the Syrian refugees with great pressure on the communities that have received them and that now also need humanitarian assistance.
The organisms encrypt in 20 million total people, Syrians and nationals of the countries where they live. In 2021 that number was 10.4 million.
In presenting its humanitarian appeal, the UN explained that the resources would go directly to some twelve million people in need.
The coordinated UN response to the Syrian crisis in 2022 requires a total of $10.5 billion: 4.4 billion for operations in Syria and 6.1 billion for refugees and host communities in the countries of the region. So far, the funds received barely reach 8% and 11%, respectively.
“Our main message today is: this is not the time to walk away from the syrians making them a forgotten crisis”, they emphasized, emphasizing that apathy is not an option.
They added that while the solution to the crisis must be political, the people of Syria, the refugees and neighboring host countries, deserve continued international solidarity and support.
“Millions in Syria and the region they need our help, more than ever”, they pointed out.