Statement at the Launch of humanitarian response plans for Syria and the region

Held by Ambassador Mr. Kongstad

Norway is deeply concerned about the continued spiral of violence we are witnessing in Syria today, and the devastating effects it has on the Syrian people. The lack of a meaningful political process towards ending the conflict is disheartening. It points the way to a continued and accelerated state of human suffering with no immediate end in sight.

Norway calls on all parties to the conflict to abide by their obligation to protect all humanitarian actors and to respect humanitarian law.

Norway is impressed by the efforts and solidarity shown by the people and governments in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq in accommodating the ever increasing number of Syrian refugees. This crisis has an impact beyond what humanitarian policies and budgets are designed to respond to. The crisis is already having a protracted character and a regional impact on infrastructure and societies that will have long term effects.

We must discuss a broader approach also in terms of sources of funding to enable societies and infrastructure to withstand the impact and respond.

Countries in the region must be supported in both responding to the needs of refugees while sustaining the services and security for their population.

We are in the process of assessing how we can furthermore increase our financial contributions.

Norway commends the United Nations and other humanitarian actors on the ground in Syria and in the region for their efforts in trying to ease the suffering of millions of Syrians – and not least the solidarity of many Syrians who at great risks are volunteering for humanitarian work inside Syria. The Syrian people, despite their terrible predicament, continue to be the most important defenders of human dignity in this crisis.

But the challenge is much broader than funding. The response plans launched here today is the largest appeal for humanitarian assistance ever. Despite this, we all know that due to constraints on humanitarian access the needs inside Syria are greater than what is described within the response plan. If the current degree of access does not improve dramatically, many of the needs will continue to go unfulfilled. The question of humanitarian access and the fundamental respect for international humanitarian law by all actors is critical. The humanitarian response in Syria must be de–politicised. Norway calls on all parties to the conflict in Syria to allow humanitarian actors full access to all parts of the country. Furthermore, to end all bureaucratic hurdles for providing humanitarian support by all decision-makers involved.