As participants prepare for the Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region conference in Brussels this week, Refugees International calls on the international community to recognize and respond to the continued urgency of humanitarian needs inside Syria, and of many Syrians in the surrounding region. In particular, the United States must remain engaged in humanitarian assistance for the region in order to save innocent lives, support regional stability, and create conditions for a viable future.
The conference is an opportunity to jointly evaluate the fulfillment of pledges made at the 2016 donor conference in London, and to reinforce and add to commitments to the protection of civilians and the support of host communities.
It is also a forum to examine progress toward a political resolution to the conflict in Syria, and to discuss ongoing support for the country once a political transition is underway. These are all issues the international community has been addressing since the beginning of the crisis six years ago, and their importance only increases along with the number of Syrians in desperate humanitarian need.
Since that meeting over one year ago, Syria has seen the culmination of several devastating sieges, territorial gains by the regime, further economic deterioration, and changing international involvement in the conflict, all of which are contributing to the humanitarian disaster and the ongoing challenges of finding a political solution.
The Brussels conference is only the most recent of the world’s multiple efforts to end the suffering in Syria and plan for moving forward. It is unlikely to be the last. We all need to make every possible effort to ensure this meeting is a genuine turning point for the protection of civilians and for humanitarian assistance, even as we work toward a resolution.
Refugees International urges the United States to:
Send an appropriate high-ranking representative to participate in the conference, and to be sure that individual is invested with decision-making power;
Continue its humanitarian support to Syria and Syrians in the region by making new financial and resettlement pledges at the same level as in 2016, at the least;
Increase the amount and effectiveness of humanitarian aid inside Syria by supporting local Syrian groups through existing funding mechanisms that ensure those with direct access to populations in need are equipped to operate.
Highlight the need to protect humanitarian aid workers in Syria regardless of where they operate and whether their organization is registered, including permission to continue working safely in geographic areas where control has changed.
After six years of conflict, internal displacement, and refugee flight, emergency humanitarian needs still exist inside Syria and in the surrounding region. At the same time, long-term needs like education and psycho-social services are only increasing, and it requires creative, forward-looking support to address them. The Brussels conference is a chance to re-commit to supporting vulnerable Syrians now, and in the future.