Brussels, Belgium, April 25, 2018 — As the 6th international conference on the Syria crisis concluded this Wednesday, nine international organisations welcomed the commitments that were made by attendees, and noted the following in reaction to its outcomes:
Though the crisis is now in its eighth year, the unmet and growing needs of millions of men, women and children mean that donor countries cannot show any sign of fatigue. This conference did not go nearly far enough to provide adequate support to the millions of Syrians in need of assistance and who are left facing an uncertain future.
On the need to follow through on jobs, education and resettlement commitments:
The promises made in Brussels, whilst welcome, will not keep a child from having to work in Lebanon, nor send every child to school in Jordan unless there are robust mechanisms to ensure that commitments are translated to action.
This includes the commitments to create more than one million jobs for Syrian refugees and to get millions of Syrian children back into school. Women's role in the workforce, for example, should be turned from a positive slogan into real opportunities that allow families to live with dignity. Furthermore, donors and countries hosting refugees need to ensure that all Syrians have legal protections, and that the most vulnerable have pathways to resettlement, and other refugees have access to other forms of admission such as family reunification.
On protection of Syrian civilians:
Politicians must offer their support, not their sympathy to the Syrian people. Civilians are bearing the brunt of the continuous violence and attacks on hospitals and schools. Countries meeting in Brussels sent a strong message of support by calling for protection of civilians trapped in the conflict and reaffirming that returns of Syrians to and within the country is not possible so long as the conditions for a safe, dignified and voluntary return are not met.
The international community also stressed the importance of unimpeded and sustained access to civilians inside Syria, which is central to any effective delivery of life-saving aid and to enhanced protection.
But donor countries have once again done nothing to increase resettlement beyond the paltry 3% of Syrian refugees they have taken in, favouring instead to leave them in Syria’s neighbouring countries, which are hosting more than five million refugees.
We welcome the fact that the conference recognised that reconstruction is not yet appropriate or possible inside Syria, as long as the conflict continues and an inclusive solution has not been reached. In the meantime, donor countries should support longer term delivery of basic services, access to jobs and livelihoods opportunities, and access to identity documents inside Syria and neighbouring countries which will help remove future obstacles to recovery.
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 28 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.