How to invest in the future of Syria?

Syria Roundtable - Photo:Mission of Norway to the European Union

Norway hosted a roundtable on how to support resilience in Syria with EU partners and the Syria Resilience Consortium.

- The conflict in Syria has now entered its eight year. Given the duration of the conflict, the needs of the Syrian people go far beyond just emergency relief. While dealing with the immediate challenges, we must also address the long-term needs, said Norwegian State Secretary Marianne Hagen in her opening remarks.

The roundtable took place at Norway House on 24 April, on the margins of the Brussels II Conference on Supporting the future of Syria and the region. The six partner organizations of the Syria Resilience Consortium* (SRC) and representatives from UN organizations, the European Commission and donor countries all took part in a discussion on how to contribute to long-term recovery in Syria without crossing the red line that many Western donors have regarding reconstruction.

Participants pointed to the challenges on the ground in Syria, with continued displacements and unpredictable access for international organisations and NGOs'. Despite the risks involved, it is important to keep a medium to long-term perspective in aid projects.

“Do no harm”

Prior to the roundtable, the consortium had gathered input to the discussion on resilience building inside Syria through a series of stakeholder consultations in Syria and the region.

One key issue was how humanitarian actors can maintain their neutrality, impartiality and independence, while supporting individuals and communities to enhance their capacity to deal with the conflict and rebuild their livelihoods. Particularly, it is crucial to agree on "how far is too far" when engaging with local structures.

The partner organizations of the SRC aim to restore local economies, provide livelihood opportunities and empower vulnerable groups like women, children and persons with injuries and disabilities.

- Resilience is about taking part in meaningful activities and being active and productive, in spite of living in a conflict situation. We are proud donors of the consortium and happy that the consortium’s programmes are based on humanitarian principles, said Hagen.

Marianne Hagen
Norway’s State Secretary Marianne Hagen next to moderator Claus Haugaard Sørensen, diplomat from Denmark’s permanent representation to the EU. Photo:Mission of Norway to the European Union

There is at the same time a broad agreement that there should be no large scale reconstruction in Syria without a credible political solution to the conflict.

Norway has since 2016 provided NOK 35 million in support to Syria through the Syria Resilience Consortium.

 * The Syria Resilience Consortium partner organizations include Care International, the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Mercy Corps, Humanity and Inclusion (HI) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

Group Image Syria Roundtable
Gerry Garvey (Danish Refugee Council), Joel Chrisco (IRC), Claus Haugaard Sørensen (Denmark’s perm. rep.), Christel Bultman (Syria Resilience Consortium), Amany Quaddor (Syria Relief & Development), Inge Brees (Care International), Christian Friis Bach (Danish Refugee Council) and Sherif Rushdy (UNDP Sub-Regional Response Facility). Photo:Mission of Norway to the European Union

Norway to provide NOK 2,25 billion to alleviate Syria
crisis in 2018

Norway continues to maintain its substantial humanitarian support for civilians affected by the conflict in Syria and neighboring countries. In 2018 the Norwegian government will provide NOK 2,25 bn for the Syria crisis.

Norway's contribution was announced at the Brussels Conference II on "Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region", which was helt on ministerial level on 25 april the day after the roundtable. Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide attended the conference.

At the donor conference in London in 2016, which was held on Norway's initiative, Norway announced a contribution of NOK 10 billion over a four-year period.

- We fullfill our promises as planned. Despite very demanding conditions in terms of security and the consequences of not having a political solution, Norway is on of the largest humanitarian contributors to the Syria crisis, Eriksen Søreide said.

The Minister underlined the importance of securing sustained international engagement and support for the humanitarian efforts and the UN-led process to find political solutions.

Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide attended the conference for Syria in Brussels.
Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide attended the conference for Syria in Brussels.