Thursday 4 February 2016
‘The crisis in Syria is having unspeakable consequences for millions of people in Syria and its neighbouring countries. The best way we can help is by providing direct assistance in Syria and the region.
‘For this reason, Norway is now increasing its aid to Syria and the region to NOK 2.4 billion for 2016. We intend to maintain this high level of assistance and will provide a total of around NOK 10 billion over the next four years,’ said Prime Minister Erna Solberg.
It was the Norwegian Government that originally proposed convening an international donor conference for Syria, and it has played a key role in bringing about the conference that is being held in London today. Some 13.5 million people, far more than double the number of people living in Norway, are in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria. A further 4.5 million people have fled from the country and are also in need of help.
‘This allocation from Norway is a record high. Norway has never given so much money to a humanitarian crisis of this kind before. The humanitarian needs are immense. With this conference, we are urging other countries to increase their assistance too,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.
The funding provided by Norway will go towards humanitarian efforts and long-term development aid in Syria, and to Syria’s neighbouring countries. It will be used, among other things, to provide education, health, shelter, food, emergency relief, protection, water and sanitation, and to support efforts to help victims of sexual violence. The funds will be primarily channelled through the UN and aid organisations that Norway cooperates closely with. Norway is giving particular priority to education, and is earmarking as much as 15 % of its current allocation, NOK 350 million, for education this year.
‘The civil war has lasted for nearly five years. If we fail to take decisive action now, the situation for civilians and Syria’s neighbouring countries will only get worse, and this will affect the whole of the international community, including Norway,’ said Ms Solberg.
More than 30 heads of state, representatives from 60 countries and UN leaders are participating at the Supporting Syria and the Region conference in London today. Prime Minister Solberg is co-chairing the conference, together with UK Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Kuwaiti Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
‘An end to the conflict is urgently needed. The scale of the destruction in Syria is so extensive that it will take many years to repair the damage once peace is finally achieved. The fact that the donor countries have pledged to provide aid over several years is vital. More predictable funding will enable aid workers on the ground to plan their work more effectively,’ Mr Brende said.
Norway has been one of the largest contributors of humanitarian aid to Syria and the region since the crisis began. At the previous donor conference in Kuwait, Norway pledged NOK 750 million in the course of 2015, but in fact provided NOK 1.57 billion during the year to help civilians in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan. This means that Norway is now increasing its support to three times the level pledged at the previous donor conference. The Government is allocating NOK 2.4 billion for 2016, most of it from the humanitarian budget. The Government intends to provide a similar amount each year for the period 2016-2019 to Syria, Iraq, and affected neighbouring countries, bringing the total amount of aid provided over the next four years to about NOK 10 billion.