(NEW YORK) April 23, 2018—Prior to the second Brussels Conference on the protracted Syria crisis tomorrow, Action Against Hunger strongly urges the 28 EU Foreign Ministers attending to keep sight of the desperate humanitarian needs of the population and to offer more than just financial resolutions.
Co-hosted by the European Union and the United Nations, the ‘Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region’ conference, running from April 24 to 25, aims to focus on securing commitment for further humanitarian support as well as bolstering the UN-led political peace process in Geneva.
At the beginning of the eighth year of conflict, at least 500,000 lives have been lost, with half of all Syrian’s now displaced from their homes and an estimated 69% living in extreme poverty.
“Funds are obviously necessary to respond to this crisis, but the commitments made must also guarantee humanitarian access to the populations under threat, and demonstrate an understanding that investing in rehabilitation programs for infrastructure and livelihoods is as crucial as covering the pressing needs of the population,” explains Rui Oliveira, Action Against Hunger’s Advocacy Coordinator for Middle East.
“Following the first Syria pledging conference in Brussels in 2017, only 53 per cent of the estimated $3 billion and more needed by the United Nations has currently been implemented on the ground,” says Manuel Sánchez Montero, Director of Advocacy at Action Against Hunger Spain.
“This year we are talking about only 15 per cent coverage of the appeal. The commitments this time must be realistic and real in terms of the estimation of needs, the commitments acquired, and the figures that finally become effective.”
Action Against Hunger calls for all parties to the conflict to guarantee humanitarian access to more than 13 million vulnerable Syrians, and urges all parties to the conflict to refrain from using the civilian population as a human shield during military operations.
"Most Syrians are living in extreme vulnerability. The humanitarian needs of millions of people are immediate and urgent in terms of food and water, sanitation and hygiene, with an estimated 35 per cent of the population depending on unsafe water sources, but we must also support the future reintegration of civilians into an active life,” adds Sánchez-Montero.
With more than half of the Syrian population displaced from their homes and on the move, it is necessary to ensure that the return to pacified areas is always voluntary and safe, covering the basic needs of the population at the point of origin as well as the destination.
Action Against Hunger has sent a delegation to Brussels to illustrate to participants the challenges of covering the humanitarian needs of the Syrian population and ways to support their future, as well as highlighting the following:
- The need to make sufficient funds available to cover the needs of the evacuated population, as well as those trapped in sieges and those located in areas in power transitions.
- The deployment of a humanitarian response to its full potential, by allowing access to populations, reducing bureaucratic procedures, and minimising the impact of international sanctions which impede the entry of goods and funds from international NGOs into the country.
- The need for evacuations and population movements to be safe and to provide non-discriminatory assistance from the outset for all populations, regardless of their origin, affiliation, or location, and prioritising women and children.
- Support of projects focused on creating and/or reinforcing the resilience of the Syrian population, inlcuding the rehabilitation of basic infrastructures, the recovery of small businesses, agriculture, livestock and other means of livelihood.