Statement at donor conference for Syria

Speech/statement | Date: 2018-04-25 | By Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide (Brussels, 25 April) | Minister of Foreign Affairs Ms. Ine Eriksen Søreide's statement at the conference "Supporting the future of Syria and the region".

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Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

Our collective failure to end the conflict in Syria is the reason we are meeting here today.

The conflict, which has now entered its eighth year, has caused untold human suffering.

Violations of international humanitarian law and failure to protect civilians happen every day, and have been throughout the conflict.

Impunity continues to be widespread, even for the use of chemical weapons.

Syria's neighbours continue to shoulder a disproportionate share of the burden.

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I have three main messages.

First: The world has found solutions to highly complex problems before. Syria should be no different.

The parties to the conflict in Syria have refused to change their positions since the conflict began. After seven years, we know that this approach does not work.

To avoid Syria becoming an even more protracted conflict, all parties, and their sponsors, must demonstrate the will to negotiate and the will to compromise.

I call on all parties to work through the UN-led political negotiations to secure durable peace. The involvement of civil society and women in these negotiations should be applauded.

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Second: Humanitarian access must improve.

All parties to the conflict bear a responsibility to address the barriers that are preventing humanitarian aid from reaching vulnerable and desperate people.

The main responsibility, however, rests with the Syrian Government.

I am concerned that additional areas will soon see similar human suffering to that seen in Eastern Ghouta, Aleppo and elsewhere.

I urge all parties to work for improved humanitarian access, particularly to areas that are besieged and hard to reach.

Humanitarian support must be prioritised according to needs only.

The humanitarian imperative should never be compromised.

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Third: We must step up funding to education.

For many Syrian girls and boys, the conflict has meant no schooling for several years.

One third of school-age Syrian children inside Syria and its neighbouring countries still have no access to education.

Going to school is a way of inserting some sort of normality in a completely abnormal situation.

I am concerned that the lack of schooling could lead to lost generations, and leave young people vulnerable to radicalisation.

Safe schools can protect children and young people from harm, and equip them with life-saving knowledge. Education gives hope for a better future.

Norway has made a commitment to allocate 15 % of our humanitarian assistance to Syria and its neighbouring countries to education. We urge others to do the same.

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And fourth: The international community must continue to provide funds to alleviate the effects of the Syria crisis.

The gap between the needs in Syria and its neighbouring countries, and the resources available to address them is widening.

At the London conference in 2016, Norway pledged more than USD 1,3 billion over a period of four years to the Syrian crisis.

We have delivered on our promise every year. In 2018, Norway will provide over NOK 2.25 billion, or around USD 280 million.

This war has had a devastating impact on millions of people in the region. I urge all countries to honour their financial commitments.

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Let me conclude by saying that the commitment of our many humanitarian and development partners is felt and appreciated every day in Syria and its neighbouring countries.

Your work is invaluable, and I would like to express our immense gratitude to everyone working to alleviate the suffering caused by the Syrian conflict.

Thank you.