“Of all the humanitarian emergencies facing us today none match Syria’s in terms of scale or in the immensity of need,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Development set back decades
The widespread destruction of livelihoods and infrastructure has pushed 70 per cent Syrians into extreme poverty. At the same time, neighbouring countries are reeling under the strain of the massive influx of refugees from Syria.
“Host countries have demonstrated outstanding generosity to Syrian refugees for many years despite the huge pressure on national services and infrastructure,” said Achim Steiner, the Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
Host countries have demonstrated outstanding generosity to Syrian refugees for many years despite the huge pressure on national services and infrastructure – UNDP chief Achim Steiner
“The international community must enhance their support for longer term development efforts to these countries on the front line who have been providing a global public good,” he said.
The two-day conference in Brussels is expected to draw ministerial-level participation from over 85 countries.
On the first day, more than 200 non-governmental organizations from Syria and the region discussed ways to improve services with ministers and top UN and EU officials. Separately, Staffan de Mistura, the UN Special Envoy for Syria and Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, met with Syrian civil society leaders.
Speaking to the press following the meeting, they called on all parties to the negotiating table.
“They [the civil society] were sitting around the table together today, many of them did not agree with each other, in fact we noticed it, but they were able to sit around the table, that’s exactly what we want at the political level,” said Mr. de Mistura.
Results from the first day of discussions will feed into the plenary sessions on Wednesday, which will cover all key aspects of the conflict, including the political process. Also on day 2, the total amount of aid pledges received will be announced. The co-chairs plan to release a declaration at the closing of the meeting.