Finland has stressed the need for a durable political solution in Syria to alleviate the human suffering of ordinary Syrians and the difficult to understand burden on the societies and economies of neighboring countries. It has called on all parties to the conflict to respect their obligations to protect civilians and abide by the rules of international humanitarian and human rights laws.

“Humanitarian assistance must reach all people in need, regardless of their cultural, political or other affiliations. We are particularly concerned about the situation of those who are most vulnerable, including children, the aged and persons with disabilities,” Finland’s Minister for International Development Pekka Haavisto said at the international donor conference in Kuwait last week.

Haavisto said Finland appreciates the efforts of Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, as well as those of Iraq and Egypt in dealing with the refugee crisis. The international community has the responsibility to continue generous humanitarian assistance while scaling up development aid to help build resilience in the countries whose local services have been dramatically eroded by the mass influx of refugees.

“In Syria, the human rights situation is worsening and an increasing number of civilians are facing a combination of conflict and collapse of basic services. Violations of international humanitarian principles and law and systematic attacks on medical facilities and personnel have become a norm. Our sincere appreciation goes to the humanitarian workers on the ground who, despite all this, have been able to expand humanitarian assistance,” said Haavisto.

Finland provided €16.3 million of humanitarian assistance and €3.5 million of development aid in response to the Syria crisis in 2013. On 15 January, it pledged €7 million, to be channeled through the United National High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP) and non-government organisations. It will consider further funding to respond to both humanitarian and development needs later this year.

“We thank Syria’s neighbors for their generosity in the face of the escalating refugee crisis and encourage them to continue to keep their borders open to all those fleeing Syria, including Palestinians, many of them refugees twice over. The United Nations Relief & Works Agency (UNRWA) deserves the international community’s full support in fulfilling its mandate. Finland fully supports the UN Office For Coordination Of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and the UNHCR in their coordinating roles in responding to the humanitarian and refugee crises,” Haavisto said.