Press release, 14.11.2013

Norway to contribute to destruction of Syrian chemical weapons and to increase assistance to Syria and neighbouring countries

The Government has today decided to offer to provide a civilian cargo ship to transport Syrian chemical weapons, and to make a Norwegian frigate available to serve as a military escort. Norway will also contribute up to NOK 90 million to the trust funds established by the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to support efforts to destroy Syrian chemical weapons in accordance with Security Council resolution 2118. In addition, Norway is providing NOK 100 million in funding to help alleviate the precarious humanitarian situation in Syria and its neighbouring countries.  

“Norway is supporting the work that is being done under the auspices of the UN and the OPCW to destroy Syrian chemical weapons. It is vital that the chemical agents and precursors are destroyed as quickly as possible, to prevent weapons of mass destruction being used to target the people of Syria again. We will therefore assist in the transportation efforts, along with other countries. We will also contribute up to NOK 90 million to cover costs associated with the destruction of these weapons, through the UN and OPCW trust funds,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende, who announced Norway’s contribution in connection with his meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington DC. 

Security Council resolution 2118 was the result of the US and Russia managing to unite behind a more effective response to the civil war in Syria. On Friday 15 November, the Executive Council of the OPCW will adopt a detailed plan for destroying Syria’s chemical weapons and the weapons production facilities Syria has used. Norway is a member of the Executive Council of the OPCW for the period 2012–2014.

“This will be an important and concrete contribution by Norway to following up Security Council resolution 2118,” said Mr Brende. 

There will be a need to guard and escort the transport of the weapons. The Government has therefore decided to make a Norwegian frigate available, so that the weapons can be transported securely. 

“It is essential that the weapons are transported safely. I am therefore pleased that we are able to provide a Norwegian frigate as an escort vessel. Norway will also be able to provide relevant military personnel to support the civilian cargo ship,” said Minister of Defence Ine Eriksen Søreide.  

The conflict in Syria has created the largest refugee crisis since the Second World War, and the humanitarian needs are immense, both in Syria itself and in its neighbouring countries. According to the UN, 9.3 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance as a result of the conflict. Of these, 6.5 million people are internally displaced and 2.2 million people are refugees. The UN has asked for a total of USD 4.4 billion in humanitarian assistance to Syria and its neighbours. So far, pledges have been made to cover 61 % of this sum. The Government is therefore providing NOK 100 million in funding for humanitarian projects in Syria and its neighbouring countries. 

“The humanitarian crisis in Syria has become one of unfathomable proportions, and we have a duty to do our part. Millions of people in Syria are in dire need of humanitarian assistance, and the neighbouring countries have done their utmost to help, and are now at the very limit of what they can cope with. We will therefore give an additional NOK 100 million in humanitarian assistance to Syria and its neighbours,” said Mr Brende. 

Norway has provided NOK 850 million in assistance since the start of the conflict, making it the sixth largest humanitarian donor to Syria and its neighbouring countries.