International community must step up the regional response

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Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg visited Lebanon and Jordan on 7-9 November 2015. She met Syrian refugees in settlements in Lebanon and in the Zaatari camp in northern Jordan. Ms Solberg also had a number of political talks with key leaders to discuss the needs arising from the crisis, as well as possible solutions.

Some 4.3 million people have fled the conflict in Syria, while 6.6 million people remain internally displaced. According to official UN figures, approximately 1.1 million of the registered refugees are in Lebanon, and another 630 000 are in Jordan. Norway provided USD180 million in response to the crises in Syria and Iraq in 2015. More than one third of these funds are being used in Lebanon and Jordan.

‘Meeting people who have fled from war and left behind almost everything they own made a deep impression on me, particularly seeing children who are facing an uncertain future because of the appalling situation. The refugees’ need for assistance is great, and the sheer number of refugees is making it difficult for the neighbouring countries to continue to provide basic education and health services for their own citizens. The international community must assume greater responsibility and provide more support to Syria as well as the neighbouring areas,’ Ms Solberg said.                                    

Prime Minister Solberg’s visit was part of the work to follow up the Norwegian initiative to hold a donor conference for Syria. The conference will be co-hosted by Norway, Germany, Kuwait, the UK and the UN.

‘My visit to Lebanon and Jordan has made it even clearer to me that unless we provide effective assistance to the neighbouring areas, more and more people will embark on the journey to Europe. We need to mobilise unprecedented levels of funding to help all those who are directly affected by the Syrian conflict, both in Syria and its neighbouring countries. Scaling up the international community’s assistance to the region will result in fewer people coming to Europe,’ said Ms Solberg.

The UN and NGOs are among Norway’s most important partners in seeking to meet the needs of the refugees and host communities.