Norway’s support to Syria for 2015 to increase to NOK 1 billion

The Government will increase its assistance to Syria to NOK 1 billion in 2015. This was announced by Prime Minister Erna Solberg in her address to the Storting today. She also encouraged the Storting to help create broad political support for Norway’s response to the Syrian crisis.

The civil war in Syria has resulted in one of the largest humanitarian crises since the Second World War. This year, the UN has asked the international community to provide NOK 59 billion to meet the humanitarian needs in Syria and its neighbouring countries. Only 16 % of the UN appeal has been raised so far. Larger contributions are therefore needed.

- In the revised budget, the Government will increase its support for humanitarian aid and development efforts in Syria and its neighbouring countries by NOK 250 million. This means that Norway’s total support this year will be NOK 1 billion. The money will be used to provide food, health services, shelter, education, water and sanitation services, amongst other things, said Ms Solberg.

This means that by the end of 2015, Norway will have provided nearly NOK 3 billion in assistance to Syria and the region since the civil war broke out. Norway is one of the largest donors to the Syrian crisis.

- What started as demonstrations for democracy and freedom has developed into a war in which a brutal regime is fighting a divided, armed opposition, said Ms Solberg.

Reaching out to large numbers of people

To illustrate how this new funding can be used, the Prime Minister presented some alternatives. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement could, for example, use it to provide food aid and other emergency relief to 250 000 people in Syria for a year. Or it could be used to provide schooling for more than 53 000 children and young people in Lebanon. This shows that channelling funding to the immediate area is worthwhile.

- It is my ambition to help the largest possible number of people. Norway is accepting more Syrian refugees than before, but now that we are stepping up our efforts, we have to consider what will help most people, Ms Solberg said.

Ms Solberg’s address to the Storting today dealt with the crises in Syria and Iraq and the situation in the Mediterranean. The whole address is currently only available in Norwegian. An English version will be published shortly.

At the end of her address, Ms Solberg invited the Storting to take part in a joint effort to resolve the three main challenges she had highlighted earlier: Norway’s response to the crisis in the Mediterranean, the need for more emergency relief in Syria and the neighbouring area, and the question of how many quota refugees Norway should accept in 2016.