Third International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria

Kuwait, 31 March 2015

- It is unacceptable that we have not reached a political solution in Syria by now. We must try again. Try better. Try harder.Today, we must demonstrate our solidarity with the people of Syria, said Foreign Minister Børge Brende in his speech at the Third International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria in Kuwait on 31 March.

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Your Royal Highness, Highnesses, Secretary-General, Excellencies,

Since we met last year, we find ourselves no closer to peace in Syria.For the third time, we have to acknowledge that things have only gotten worse. Thousands more have been killed. Millions more are homeless. And the social fabric and infrastructure are even closer to collapse.

It is unacceptable that we have not reached a political solution in Syria by now. We must try again. Try better. Try harder.

Today, we must demonstrate our solidarity with the people of Syria. And with the brave humanitarian workers and volunteers. They need our urgent support.

On behalf of the Norwegian Government, I therefore pledge 750 million Norwegian kroner, the equivalent of 93 million US dollars, in humanitarian assistance and support of resilience efforts in Syria and the neighbouring countries.

It is appalling, as well as heartbreaking, that schools and medical facilities are being directly targeted. Therefore, at least 20 % of the Norwegian funding will be earmarked for education and the protection of children. We cannot accept to loose a generation of Syrian children to war and lack of education. They must receive protection and schooling. They represent the future of the country.

Norway calls on all parties to abide by their obligations to respect international humanitarian law and to protect humanitarian actors. They must allow the delivery of humanitarian supplies to all those in need, in all parts of the country.

Syria’s neighbouring countries – Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt – are providing shelter and relief for millions of Syrian refugees. This is a heavy burden. They deserve our full support.

The spread of instability to Libya, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere further demonstrates the urgency of finding a solution to this conflict. It can only be resolved by political means.

The suffering will not stop until the violence ends. Every stone must be turned in the search for solutions.

And somebody – if not everybody – will need to contemplate solutions that they have not been willing to consider this far. 

To achieve this, we must step up efforts on several fronts:

In the region, governments must put aside diverging interests in the interest of peace and regional stability.

In New York, members of the Security Council must increase pressure on the parties on the ground.

In Syria, the regime must stop the violence against the civilian population and show willingness to implement genuine confidence building measures. 

We need immediate and tangible results on the ground in order to give people hope, build confidence between warring parties, and strengthen their commitment to the process. It will take time to establish a realistic and durable peace process. But we must step up our efforts today.

New initiatives must be well prepared and broadly supported, and be in line with the Geneva Communique. We owe it to the Syrian people, who, despite their tragic predicament, continue to be the most important defenders of human dignity in this crisis.

Thank you.