Belgium will allocate this year 26 million EUR for humanitarian help to Syria and neighboring countries. This sum will go to the war refugees. The announcement was made by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo at the start of the international conference Supporting Syria and the Region which takes place today and tomorrow in Brussels.
With this new commitment, the total amount of humanitarian assistance from Belgium to Syria and its region now exceeds 100 million EUR. “We do this in solidarity with the Syrian people who have been trapped in this bloody war for eight years already. No other crisis ever received that much humanitarian support from Belgium. It is the largest human tragedy of our time” declared Minister De Croo.
More than 13 million Syrians currently need humanitarian help, such as food, shelter, medical care or water. Almost three million people are blocked in areas that are very hard to reach or besieged. More than five million found refuge in neighboring countries: Turkey (3,5 million), Lebanon (1 million), Jordan (655.000), Iraq (248.000) and Egypt (120.000).
The humanitarian support provided by Belgium supports the work in the field by the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs OCHA, the World Food Programme (WFP), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF.
Negotiations are the only solution
The two-day conference Supporting Syria and the Region gathers today and tomorrow in Brussels representatives from more than 85 countries and organisations. The conference intends not only to mobilize financial assistance, but also to provide an impetus to the political peace process led by Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy for Syria.
Alexander De Croo: “With this second Syria Conference, the international community wants to send a strong signal that only a political solution can bring an end to the conflict. Bombs will not bring peace. Only political dialogue can stop these atrocities. A real sustainable solution for Syria can only be reached through negotiations.”
Fight against impunity
Belgium attaches also great importance to the fight against impunity. War crimes can’t remain unpunished. Belgium is a significant financial supporter of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism on International Crimes committed in the Syrian Arab Republic which was created by the UN General Assembly in 2016. This mechanism collects and preserves the evidence which will be necessary to support later an independent judicial process to establish criminal responsibilities.
During the Syria Conference, Belgium will organize tomorrow together with a number of other countries a side-event in order to highlight the importance of the fight against impunity, certainly in the context of the recent announcements of chemical attacks in Syria.
Dialogue with Syrian civil society
Earlier today, Deputy Prime Minister De Croo opened a meeting with representatives from Syria’s civil society in the Egmont Palace. They had intensive discussions behind closed doors over the last few days on the future and the reconstruction of Syria, and will present their proposals tomorrow at the conference.