At the fourth Brussels Conference on “Supporting the future of Syria and the Region”, the international community pledged a total of €6.9 billion for Syria and the main countries hosting Syrian refugees for 2020 and beyond. Of this amount, the European Union overall pledged 71%, or €4.9 billion, with €2.3 billion coming from the European Commission and €2.6 billion from EU Member States. The EU and its Member States are the largest donor addressing the consequences of the Syrian crisis with over €20 billion of humanitarian, stabilisation, development and economic assistance mobilised since 2011.
The Brussels IV Conference, taking place virtually from 22 to 30 June and co-chaired with the United Nations, gathered all relevant actors from over 80 countries and international organisations. They addressed the current situation in Syria and the region and renewed their support to UN-led efforts for a comprehensive political solution to the conflict. It also provided a unique platform for dialogue with civil society.
High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell said: “Almost 10 years of war have meant that half of the Syrian population have had to flee their homes. Over half a million people have died. An entire generation of Syrian children has only known war. Their future and the future of their country is still being held hostage. Europe cannot and will not look away. All Syrians deserve a better, peaceful future. Today, we have brought together all relevant international actors to confirm our commitment to supporting the Syrian people and UN efforts to find a comprehensive and lasting political solution to the Syrian conflict.”
Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič added: “Syrians continue to live in the shadow of the war. The humanitarian situation in Syria remains dire, with the coronavirus pandemic further exacerbating the needs of the most vulnerable communities. The EU is committed to continue helping Syrian people and the hosting communities for as long as it is needed.”
Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi said: “The EU has contributed €20 billion in response to the Syrian crisis, reaching nearly 7 million refugees and vulnerable people in host communities. With today's EU pledge our support continues. Across the region, the EU has helped to build schools, provide education, create social safety nets, generate jobs and ensure macro-economic stability, in support of the refugees and the host communities. And we will work for the economic reboot of the region, to help with post-COVID-19 recovery and to address pre-existing problems.”
The co-chairs adopted a joint declaration.
Since 2017, the Brussels Conferences on “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region” have brought together the international community in support of UN efforts in favour of a political solution to the conflict in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254. They have allowed the donor community to pledge vital humanitarian and financial support for the Syrian population and for neighbouring countries hosting Syrian refugees. The Conferences have also offered a platform to bring representatives from Syrian, regional and international non-governmental and civil society organisations together with policy makers during the “Days of Dialogue”.
Days of Dialogue with civil society
During the four live-streamed panel discussions of the Days of Dialogue (22-23 June), civil society and NGO representatives from Syrian, regional and international non-governmental and civil society organisations exchanged with ministers and senior decision-makers from the EU, the UN, Syria's neighbouring countries and other international partners. The online discussions tackled the role of women, youth and civil society in building Syria's future; the regional response and recovery in the face of coronavirus; the support and protection of Syria's displaced population, and the immediate needs resulting from the humanitarian situation.
The Days of Dialogue were followed by more than 35,000 people and can still be watched online, including the speeches of Commissioners Várhelyiand Lenarčič. They complemented a wide online consultation process that took place in the months preceding the Conference, and that gathered inputs from over 1,400 individuals and organisations. The recommendations resulting from those discussions and consultations were conveyed by NGO rapporteurs to today's Ministerial meeting.
From 24 to 30 June, a number of side events hosted by EU Member States, partner countries, UN agencies and other international organisations took place online.
On 29 June, High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell and UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen exchanged via videoconference with a diverse group of representatives from Syrian civil society and Syrian women.
The EU's virtual exhibition “Voices from Syria and the region” sheds light on the lives of people affected by the Syrian crisis and their extraordinary resilience and determination.
Two cultural events hosted by BOZAR also took place in the margins of the Conference. The recordings of the concert of the Damast Duo on 24 June and the conversation with visual artist Sulafa Hijazi and clarinetist and composer Kinan Azmeh on 29 June on the role of arts in the conflict stay available online.
EU support in response to the Syrian Crisis
The fourth Brussels Conference reconfirmed the continued commitment of the EU to support and respond to the needs of the Syrians inside Syria and in the region and of their host communities in neighbouring countries.
Since 2011, EU support provided millions of Syrians and hosting communities with food assistance, healthcare and protection services such as child protection and efforts to prevent gender-based violence. The EU also provided assistance to the civilian population in the fields of education, justice and livelihoods. Inside Syria, the EU does not work with or via the regime. EU humanitarian assistance is made available throughout Syria according to the sole criterion of needs. The EU also supports the development of a strong civil society, with a specific emphasis on women and youth as actors of change for Syria's future.