February 27, 2015
Vice President Joe Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Vice President Biden,
As a group of 13 non-governmental organizations working on the frontlines of the Syria crisis to assist civilians affected by the conflict, we kindly request that you or another high-level representative of the United States government attend the upcoming Syria Crisis Donor Pledging Conference in Kuwait on March 31, 2015. The scope of the crisis, the severity of humanitarian need, and the profound impact of the conflict on a region key to U.S. national interest necessitates the highest level of U.S. government representation possible. Given the leadership role the U.S. has played in addressing this humanitarian crisis, we believe that your attendance will encourage other states to prioritize high level representation, pledge more funds, and demonstrate greater commitment to providing longer term support to the civilians affected by this crisis and the countries that are hosting them.
As we approach the four year anniversary of the conflict in Syria, a political solution remains elusive and humanitarian needs continue to grow. Providing humanitarian assistance is the one type of support that the international community widely agrees upon, and tangible outcomes continue to be achieved. At this critical juncture, your representation at the conference will make it clear to the region and the rest of the world that the United States intends to continue its support and will ensure other donors’ commitments do not wane.
In the face of overwhelming emergency needs and the accompanying costs of this protracted crisis, we recognize the need to spend effectively and efficiently. To do so, the United States must lead the donor community to:
Work to ensure that the UN and host country appeals are fully funded and continue to commit the U.S.’s fair share of support. The UN and its partners launched a major new humanitarian and development appeal (3RP), requesting over $8.4 billion in funds to help nearly 18 million people in Syria and across the region in 2015. The U.S. government should continue to be a humanitarian leader by dedicating high levels of funding and galvanizing others in the international community to help meet the UN appeal.
Build consensus and buy-in for increased levels of development funding for the response as laid out in the 3RP. Given limited funding and the protracted nature of the crisis, it is time for development actors, including the World Bank, to invest more in neighboring countries to help them expand their national systems to deliver basic services to their own citizens and accommodate refugee needs. In addition, donors and UN agencies should explore how investments in income-generating and livelihood opportunities could help displaced populations build resilience and support themselves.
Use this as an opportunity to protect Syrian women and children in line with other commitments, such as the No Lost Generation campaign. The US played an instrumental role in launching the “No Lost Generation” (NLG) initiative to ensure that protection and education are prioritized for the millions of children and youth whose lives have been torn apart by the Syrian conflict. We ask the U.S. government to make new funding commitments for education and child protection activities at the donor conference and to appoint a new Special Adviser to serve as the U.S. government’s representative for the NLG strategy ahead of the donor conference.
Ensure that host country representatives provide concrete proposals for their financial and other needs to ensure that borders stay open and services are accessible to Syrian refugees.
Commit to resettle the most vulnerable Syrians and encourage other countries to do so. Increasing the number of Syrian refugees admitted under resettlement schemes and other types of humanitarian admissions is critical to demonstrate that the United States and other donors are committed to sharing this international responsibility with neighboring countries.
The only way to end the suffering inside Syria and the region is to end the conflict. However, until a political solution to the crisis is identified and implemented, donors should continue to support civilians affected by the Syrian conflict. The inability of the international community to pledge sufficient funds for the UN appeal and articulate a commitment to the region for the long term sends a message of disinterest to Syrians and countries in the region. Your attendance would go a long way towards demonstrating that the United States is invested in addressing the humanitarian needs of Syrians and the communities hosting them.
CARE, Concern Worldwide, Global Communities, International Catholic Migration Commission, International Rescue Committee, Mennonite Central Committee U.S., Mercy Corps, Mercy USA, Oxfam America, Refugees International, Relief International, Save the Children, Syrian American Medical Society