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Remarks by David Miliband, IRC President and CEO, as hostilities continue into the 8th anniversary of the Syria conflict

On the occasion of the 8th anniversary of the conflict in Syria, and at the conclusion of the Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region, David Miliband, President and CEO of the IRC, remarked:

“Now in its staggering ninth year, Syria represents the greatest humanitarian and political failure of the 21st century. Hundreds of thousands have died, nearly 6 million have fled the country, nearly 12 million remain in need of urgent humanitarian aid. Years of relentless fighting has eroded livelihoods, as 8 in 10 Syrians live in abject poverty. Homes, schools and hospitals, including IRC-supported facilities, have been razed. At least 10 million Syrian civilians currently live in areas still affected by fighting or riddled with explosives. Both men and women face massive psychological needs, but especially children. Nearly 4 million have been born since the start of this brutal conflict, an entire generation threatened by toxic stress and years of missed education- including over 3,500 foreign children who are languishing in camps in northeast Syria. Where returns to conflict areas are taking place, Syrians will need massive improvements in demining, jobs, education, and physical infrastructure.

The Brussels conference has shined a spotlight on how much remains to be done in Syria, and how far we are from an end to this crisis. The international community must build on momentum from Brussels and chart a diplomatic course that puts civilians first. In the absence of a political settlement, the delivery of humanitarian assistance that helps build resilience for conflict-affected individuals in Syria will remain vital. Syria’s neighbors also need bold, long-term support from the international community in order for refugees to rebuild their lives.

There is no sign yet that for the large majority of Syrians the ninth year of their civil war will not be marked by trauma, displacement, danger and impunity. The direct threat to life and limb in the unfinished battles in Idlib and in the Northeast remains a potent concern for over 5 million people. The impunity that has marked the first 8 years of the war threatens them too. As for the nearly 6 million refugees outside the country, the prospects for return remain bleak. It will only compound the tragedy if the world loses further focus on this ongoing emergency.”

About the IRC

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.