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Main speech at conference on Syria

State Seceratry Marianne Hagen's main speech at the Ministerial conference on Syria in Brussels.

State Secretary Marianne Hagen at the Syria conference in Brussels. Credit: Johannes Gulbrandsen, EU-delegasjonen
State Secretary Marianne Hagen at the Syria conference in Brussels. Credit: Johannes Gulbrandsen, EU-delegasjonen

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to start by thanking the EU and the UN for ensuring that the Syria crisis remains high on all of our agendas.

I will make three points here today.

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First: Norway delivers on its commitments.

This year, we will provide NOK 2.45 billion, or around USD 280 million, fulfilling the pledge of NOK 10 billion made in London three years ago. We will continue to be a substantial donor.

We remain committed to the humanitarian response while we aim for more durable solutions. The international community’s response in Lebanon and Jordan should set an example for how we work in the humanitarian-development nexus.

Education is a central priority in this regard.

Impressive results have been achieved by the commitment of neighbouring countries, key organisations such as UNICEF and the donors.

Yet, one third of school-age Syrian children in the region still have no access to education.

Lack of schooling leaves young people with limited opportunities and vulnerable to radicalisation. Education gives hope for a better future.

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Second: Protection must be at the centre of our humanitarian response.

Protecting civilians is the key focus of Norway’s recently launched humanitarian strategy. In Syria, protection is a not only an urgent necessity; it is a prerequisite for a sustainable solution to the conflict.

Landmine contamination, including IEDs and unexploded ordnance, poses a major threat to the civilian population and prevents safe returns. We must quickly step up both mine risk education and clearance activities.

Sexual and gender-based violence is a widespread problem. We must mobilise stronger political commitment and additional financial resources to prevent incidents, protect people at risk, ensure better services for victims and empower the affected populations.

To this end, Norway will host a conference on sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in Oslo in May, in cooperation with UN OCHA, UNFPA, the ICRC and other partners. We hope to see many of you there.

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Third: We need to see tangible progress towards a political solution in Syria.

We are confident that the UN’s new Special Envoy, Geir O. Pedersen, will be able to move the political process forward. His efforts require the active support of the Security Council, the regional players and the EU. In addition, all parties, and their allies, must show a willingness to negotiate.

And I must stress the importance of involving civil society and women in the political processes, in order to ensure durable solutions.

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Finally, let me thank our many humanitarian and development partners for their invaluable efforts on the ground.

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