Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation, Hillevi Engstrom, said at the donor conference held last week in Kuwait for the humanitarian crisis in Syria that a political solution remains the only viable answer to the crisis. It is the responsibility of the parties to the conflict to seek a peaceful resolution as soon as possible, all parties must immediately respect the UN Security Council’s Presidential Statement on unhindered humanitarian access across conflict lines and across borders, and hindering humanitarian action is a crime.
The crisis in Syria has now been going on for more than 1,000 days and more than 130,000 people have lost their lives, hundreds of thousands have been injured, and millions have had to flee their homes. Many of the killed, injured and displaced are women and children. Syria’s neighbours continue to carry a huge burden by generously hosting more than 2.2 million Syrian refugees.
“There is an urgent need to combine the humanitarian response with more long-term development work. Sweden welcomes the work done by the World Bank and the UNDP. I would like to highlight the difficult situation faced by Palestinian refugees in Syria. After more than 65 years of displacement, this group has again been forced to flee. More must be done to secure the rights of the Palestinian refugees,” Engstrom said.
Sweden to continue development support
Since the onset of the Syrian crisis, Sweden has provided more than $100 million in humanitarian assistance. “We will also continue our development support focusing on democracy, human rights, women’s participation in shaping the future Syria as well as reconstruction of basic services in areas not controlled by the Syrian government, amounting to at least $21 million over a two year period from 2013-2014,” said Engstrom.
A year ago, Sweden pledged to contribute $23 million to the humanitarian response to the Syria crisis and in 2014 has pledged to contribute at least $35 million in humanitarian aid. In 2013, Sweden was the second largest donor to the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). Sweden was also among the top-five donors to key humanitarian organisations, such as the Office of the UN High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN Office For Coordination Of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), as well as a top-10 donor to United National Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP).
“In 2014, Sweden will continue to give substantial core contributions to these organisations, and urge others to do the same. In addition, since January 2012, Sweden has welcomed close to 25,000 Syrian asylum seekers within our borders. This makes Sweden the largest recipient of Syrian asylum seekers within the EU. We sincerely hope other countries will follow this example. Sweden welcomes the increased focus on the protection of women and children in the new appeals, and commends the use of gender markers in the new Regional Response Plan,” Engstrom said.