Press release | Date: 15/03/2021 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
‘Today marks 10 years since the start of the war in Syria. More than half a million Syrians have been killed. Over 13 million people are dependent on humanitarian aid. Some 12 million have been forced to flee their homes. That is why Norway is maintaining a high level of support and will contribute at least NOK 1.6 billion in 2021 towards alleviating the Syria crisis,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.
Norway is one of the largest donors to humanitarian efforts in Syria and its neighbouring countries, and has contributed over NOK 15 billion during the ten years the conflict has lasted. This makes the Syria crisis Norway’s largest ever humanitarian effort.
By providing this support, Norway, in cooperation with its humanitarian partners, will help to save lives, alleviate suffering and protect vulnerable groups. Protecting civilians and aid workers, and ensuring that women’s rights are safeguarded in the humanitarian response are key concerns.
Norway’s support for education has helped to ensure schooling for 1.2 million children and young people in Syria and its neighbouring countries each year.
‘Ten years of war means ten years of limited schooling and lost opportunities for the children and young people of Syria. Norway therefore gives top priority to education and job creation in its efforts. Syria will need an educated population to succeed in rebuilding the country,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.
Most of Norway’s humanitarian aid is channelled through the UN, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Norwegian humanitarian organisations. In addition to education and job creation, priority is given to support for protection and food and nutrition. The latest figures from the World Food Programme show that the number of people currently experiencing food insecurity has increased to 12.4 million, which represents a 40 % increase in a single year.
During its two-year period as an elected member of the UN Security Council, Norway, together with Ireland, has taken on special responsibility for humanitarian issues in the Syria crisis.
‘In the Security Council, we are working to address the civil population’s need for humanitarian assistance and protection from violence and suffering. It is vital that humanitarian organisations are given full access to all parts of the country. The scale of need is enormous and large parts of the infrastructure for basic services have been destroyed. As much as 40 % of the schools and 50 % of the health institutions have been damaged or completely demolished. For millions of people in the north of Syria, the essential supplies that are brought across the border from Turkey are a lifeline, and it is crucial that this can continue for as long as it is needed,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.
Norway also supports UN efforts to find an inclusive, political solution to the Syria crisis.
‘The Syria crisis is one of the great tragedies of our time. The conflict can only be solved through political negotiations and all of the involved parties must be prepared to make difficult compromises. The work being done by UN Special Envoy Geir O. Pedersen to find an inclusive political solution is critical and has our full support,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.