Eleven billion dollars for Syrian refugees
At the close of the "Supporting Syria and the Region" conference, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared that never before had the international community pledged such a high sum on any one day for any one project. This year alone, a total of six billion US dollars will be made available to address the Syrian crisis.
"The cash is available with immediate effect and we have a financing framework for the next few years," said Chancellor Angela Merkel. This is an important signal for the displaced persons and refugees in Syria and the region. The sum now available will make it possible to initiate important projects and to continue activities in future, she said.
Significant financial pledges
Germany will significantly increase its contribution to resolving the situation in and around Syria. The Chancellor announced that a total of 2.3 billion euros will be made available between now and 2018.
"For 2016, the German government is pledging a total of one billion euros for UN humanitarian aid programmes. Of this, we would like to give 570 million euros to the World Food Programme," explained Angela Merkel. That would cover 50 per cent of what the programme needs for the countries affected.
Over and above this, the German government will be involved in the "Partnership for Prospects" programme. "Our input for this year will total 1.2 billion euros," stressed the Chancellor.
To ensure financial security for the years to come, the German government will provide an additional 1.1 billion euros for 2017 and 2018.
Spotlight on the political process
Germany, the third largest bilateral donor, has already provided more than 1.3 billion euros since 2012 to support Syrian refugees. This increase in pledged funding will meet the financial requirements of the UN’s aid plans and will finance additional reconstruction measures in the region.
Through the new pledges of financial assistance, the international community aims to prevent even more people setting off on the dangerous journey to Europe, and risking their lives in the process, said Angela Merkel.
The Chancellor expressly praised the readiness of Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey to take in so many refugees from Syria. She can well understand just what a challenge it is for these countries to accommodate all the people seeking refuge. She said she is particularly grateful that these countries will in future issue Syrian refugees with work permits and integrate them in their labour forces.
The EU, for its part, will do all it can to improve the terms of export for the region, and wherever possible to offer it preferential trading conditions. In view of the 300,000 people who have already lost their lives in the Syrian conflict, there is no time to lose. "We must alleviate suffering and improve the humanitarian situation," stressed Angela Merkel.
This cannot, however, replace the political process, which must urgently be pushed forward, she said, in order to stabilise the entire region. The London conference is thus also a call on the Assad regime to ensure that no more additional suffering is caused in the region.
The donor countries, the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, Kuwait and the United Nations agreed during the recent G20 summit meeting in Antalya to jointly host the donor conference, in order to counter the desperate financial situation faced by UN aid organisations in Syria and neighbouring countries.
Working meeting "Inside Syria"
Chaired by the Chancellor, the working session "Inside Syria" looked at humanitarian protection and providing the people in Syria with relief supplies. The Chancellor made it very clear that in view of the chaotic situation on the ground and the level of destruction, the primary aim must be to create peaceful areas inside and around Syria as swiftly as possible.
Access to displaced individuals and refugees in the affected area must be improved and reconstruction measures promoted. It is important to focus not only on refugees in neighbouring countries, she said, but to keep the suffering people inside Syria in mind, and to try to create islands of hope within Syria.
This will involve infrastructural measures, ensuring unhindered access to electricity and water, and supplying food. The Chancellor did, however, point out that the situation can only be stabilised on a lasting basis through political solutions.
Access to jobs and education
Alongside financial pledges, long-term measures are planned to give displaced persons and refugees in Syria and its neighbouring countries prospects of a better future. These activities will include reconstruction measures and projects to improve their prospects of gaining an education and finding employment.
The "Partnership for Prospects" employment initiative is to give refugees prospects of employment where they are so that they can earn a living. A total of 500,000 jobs are to be created in the region in order to support the establishment of community centres, schools and hospitals, that will be built by the refugees. "In 2016, Germany will contribute 200 million euros to this programme," stressed Angela Merkel in London.
In order to prevent the emergence of a lost generation, all children – both Syrian refugees and the children living in the host communities – are to be enrolled at school by the academic year 2016/2017. Access to tertiary education is to be improved and technical and vocational education and training integrated into the education system.
On this point the Chancellor said, "We will also offer 1,900 university scholarships for Syrian refugees so that they can complete their education."
The Chancellor also announced that twinning arrangements would be set up between municipalities. "We will be setting up an Internet-based communication platform and asking interested German federal states, towns and cities to enter into twinning arrangements with towns in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to offer their assistance." She called on conference participants to publicise this programme at international level to get it started.