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International community pledges US$5.5B for the Syria crisis response in 2020 and $2.2B for 2021

30 juin 2020

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Families displaced by the violence in Idleb, Syria, January 2020. Credit: HFO Project Syria via OCHA

The fourth Brussels conference on “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region” – the main high-level pledging event for the Syria crisis – took place virtually today, with the international community confirming US$5.5 billion in funding to support humanitarian, resilience and development activities in 2020 for the Syria crisis response.

Funding of $2.2 billion for humanitarian, resilience and development activities in 2021 and beyond for the Syria crisis response was also confirmed today.

Speaking at the opening of the event, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock emphasized that the Syria crisis is approaching the length of the combination of World Wars I and II, with Syrians inside the country and in the region being confronted with new challenges.

“The Syrian economy is in a dramatic downturn. Prices of essentials – food, medicines, fuel – are soaring. The Syrian pound fell to a record low against the US dollar this month,” Mr. Lowcock said.

“And now we have COVID-19, which has the potential to cause much more suffering and loss, with preparations to tackle it inside Syria wholly inadequate in the light of the degrading of the health system through the years of crisis,” he added.

The UN’s Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan for 2020, for which a little more than $6 billion is being sought today, will provide food assistance, medical services, better access to water and sanitation, and education for millions of Syrian refugees.

The UN humanitarian chief noted that inside Syria, humanitarian operations in the first quarter of 2020 reached more than 5.5 million people in government-controlled areas and through cross-line deliveries to the north-east. That includes food assistance for more than 3.2 million people; nutrition support for 500,000 children; critical water and sanitation for 1.3 million people; and 4 million medical procedures.

In addition, the cross-border operation into north-west Syria is delivering at unprecedented levels, providing a lifeline for 2.8 million people in need in the area.

“The humanitarian assistance we provide across Syria and in the region depends on the generous support of the States and constituencies represented here. Your financial support saves lives and helps prevent the situation spiralling out of control. It is critical that this support continues,” said Mr. Lowcock.

He also highlighted that inside Syria, an estimated 2.45 million school-age children are out of school, while another 1.6 million are at risk of dropping out.

“One of the most tragic consequences of the horror story of the last decade has been the robbing of millions of children of their right to a decent education. This will have major long-term consequences – by which I mean we will see the results for more than fifty years,” Mr. Lowcock said.

Despite the current socioeconomic challenges, refugee-hosting countries continue to generously provide access to education services. An estimated 1.2 million school-age Syrian children in refugee-hosting countries are enrolled in education programmes. But 800,000 more remain out of school, and many of those who are enrolled are at risk of dropping out, the UN humanitarian chief said.

“One of the major challenges is funding. So, I want particularly to urge the donor countries here today to give greater priority in your pledges to the education of these children – in your own interests, but most importantly in theirs,” Mr. Lowcock said.

Also speaking at the opening of the event was UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who stressed that only a political solution can end the suffering in Syria.

“The UN-supported political process to achieve sustainable peace is moving slowly. I urge all those with influence to help Syrians find common ground. Until they can live in peace, we stand with the people of Syria,” Mr. Guterres said.

Today’s conference, held in a virtual formal, was co-chaired by the United Nations and the European Union. This year’s event was the eighth annual international meeting on Syria, following conferences in Kuwait (2013-2015), London (2016) and Brussels (2017-2019).

The $5.5 billion in funding confirmed today by the international community will support humanitarian, resilience and development activities in 2020 for the Syria crisis response, which includes pledges towards the Syria Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) and the ICRC Syria crisis appeals. This funding also includes support for UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) requirements for Palestine refugees in Syria outside the HRP and 3RP, multi-donor mechanisms, as well as other funding for 2020.

Today’s confirmed funding includes pledges reconfirmed from the London conference (February 2016), the Brussels I “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region” conference of April 2017 and the Brussels II “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region” conference of April 2018.