The Brussels III conference between the EU and the United Nations had resulted in renewed international support for the ongoing Syrian crisis.
The conference, which ran between 21 and 14 March, praised the “extraordinary generosity” of the neighbouring countries offering support and shelter to Syrian refugees, with particular reference to Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Delegates pledged additional funding of €6.2 billion for the 2019-20 financial period and €2.1 billion in multiyear pledges. The funding, of which a total €2.57 billion is drawn from the EU budget, will be allocated to the 11.7 million people in need of humanitarian aid in Syria and the 5.6 million Syrian refugees in its neighbouring nations.
High Representative and Vice President Federica Mogherini said: “Our goal remains the same: a Syrian-led, Syrian-owned political process, facilitated by the United Nations, to establish an inclusive and non-sectarian governance for a united Syria. This is what we are all trying to work for and this is also the main reason why we convened the Brussels Conference. All of us must use our leverage to relaunch the Geneva negotiations and put an end to the war in Syria. Freezing the conflict at its current stage is not a solution.”
Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement, said: “A whole generation that has no experience of what is ‘normal’ still needs us. The EU, as the leading global donor for this crisis, will continue to support Syria’s neighbours to strengthen resilience and their economies. We will step up investment in education, healthcare and regular employment so refugees become more self-reliant and can live in dignity and normality.”
Eurostat, the EU’s statistical office, yesterday released its annual report on asylum applications in EU Member States. The figures showed that, while overall the number of first-time asylum applications to Member States had dropped to levels comparable to those before the 2015-16 refugee crisis, Syria remained the largest single source of applicants by a significant margin. 80,900 Syrian citizens applied for asylum in the EU inn 2018, nearly twice the next highest figure: 41,000 from Afghanistan.
Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides said: “Inside Syria, the humanitarian situation remains a nightmare for millions of people. The EU is doing all it can to support our partners to deliver aid, but access remains a serious problem. We continue to call on all parties to allow lifesaving aid to reach people in need. We are committed to help the Syrian people for as long as it takes.”