The third conference on “Supporting the future of Syria and the region” (Brussels III Conference) is taking place in Brussels, with the European Union and the United Nations as co-chairs. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued the following statement today (14 March):
After eight years of war, the situation in Syria no longer makes the headlines every day – but the suffering of the people continues unabated. Developments in Idlib in particular are a source of grave concern to us. Any renewed flare-up of the fighting must be avoided at all costs.
Until conditions in Syria make voluntary return in safety and dignity a genuine option, the world cannot leave the people there and in neighbouring countries to cope on their own. That is why, at this year’s Brussels Conference on Syria, Germany is making available a total of 1.44 billion euros.
Our engagement as the second-largest donor of humanitarian assistance comes with a demand that humanitarian principles be adhered to. All parties to the conflict must allow full humanitarian access to all population groups and adhere to the rules of international humanitarian law. The displaced must be protected against persecution, and their fundamental rights and property rights must be guaranteed. This is one reason why strengthening international humanitarian law is one of our priorities in the UN Security Council.
At the same time, we remain convinced that lasting peace and stability will only be possible in Syria with a negotiated political settlement. We are doing whatever we can to support UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen’s endeavours to this end.
The humanitarian situation in Syria remains catastrophic. The United Nations says that almost 12 million people in Syria are dependent on humanitarian aid, including over six million internally displaced persons. More than two million children cannot attend school. The parties to the conflict in Syria, but particularly the Syrian regime, are committing severe violations of international humanitarian law, such as targeted attacks against civilian installations. Humanitarian aid workers, too, are frequently the target of attacks.
In Syria’s neighbouring countries, the humanitarian situation of over five million people, some of whom fled six or even seven years ago, remains extremely difficult. Most families are living below the poverty line and are dependent on assistance to meet their basic daily needs. Child labour and child marriage are widespread. For years, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, but also Iraq and Egypt, have been stretched to their limits, and beyond, to provide shelter, food and drink for the Syrian refugees.
As one of the largest donor nations, Germany will in future continue to meet its responsibility for the people in Syria and the host countries in the region. At the Brussels III Conference, the Federal Government is therefore pledging a further 1.44 billion euros for humanitarian assistance in Syria and its neighbouring countries, as well as for development-oriented measures in the neighbouring countries. The priority for humanitarian assistance, alongside protecting children, women and old people at particular risk, is to supply food and medicines; the sum being made available for this is 500 million euros. In addition, the Federal Government is providing a further 216 million euros to support the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey.