Assistance for Syrian refugees and host states
The Syrian refugee situation is the "greatest refugee disaster of our time" declared Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier after the conference. The situation is dramatic not only for the refugees, he said. It poses a threat to the already fragile stability in the host states.
Broader perspective needed
The conference participants were thus in complete agreement that the assistance provided by the international community must be geared more to the situation in the host countries. This is not, said Frank-Walter Steinmeier, "a change of perspective, but rather an additional perspective".
He announced that Germany would be stepping up its contribution. The Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Development Ministry will provide a total of 500 million euros in humanitarian aid and development services over the period 2015 to 2017.
Federal Development Minister Gerd Müller added that Germany will provide an additional 140 million euros for the current year. This is to be used in part to set up an urgently needed refugee camp in northern Iraq.
The meeting signalled a commitment to solidarity with the refugees and with the host states, said the Federal Foreign Minister. This is laid out in the Berlin Communiqué of the Conference on the Syrian Refugee Situation – Supporting Stability in the Region.
Supporting stability in the region
The refugee crisis in Syria is dramatic. Civil war and the terrorist organisation IS have forced more than nine million people to flee their homes. Many of them are currently living under extremely difficult circumstances in refugee camps. More than three million have fled across the border to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.
In response to requests by the affected states and the United Nations, the German government hosted the Conference on the Syrian Refugee Situation – Supporting Stability in the Region.
"I believe this is an important day for the refugees who have been forced to leave Syria, but also and in particular, for the neighbouring states that have taken in these refugees," said Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier at the opening of the conference.
Alongside the Federal Foreign Minister, Federal Development Minister Gerd Müller, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, and representatives of more than 35 states and international organisations attended the conference.
Lebanon – the challenges involved
On Monday Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the situation of the refugees and of Syria’s neighbouring states with Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam. She expressed her pleasure that Germany was hosting a ministerial level conference targeting the Syrian refugee situation. "I hope that this conference will be a strong signal of solidarity," she said after her meeting at the Federal Chancellery.
The Chancellor pointed to the challenges for Lebanon entailed by Syria’s civil war. That is why, she said, "Lebanon has our solidarity and our support". Germany is strongly involved in support for refugee camps, in the form of bilateral assistance, through the European Union and through the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).