Speech/statement | Date: 2015-09-29 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Foreign Minister Børge Brende's statement at the Ministerial Level Meeting on the Syrian Crisis in New York on 29 September 2015.
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Four years ago, Syria was a middle-income country on its way to reaching the Millennium Development Goals.
Today, half of its population have fled their homes. From Kobane and Palmyra to Aleppo, large parts of the country lie in ruins.· What four years of war have destroyed, may take forty years or more to rebuild.
Some things will never be rebuilt.
Cornerstones of humanity's heritage have been lost forever.
Hundreds of thousands of people will never get their loved ones back.
Traumatised young minds may never recover.
Day by day, it is becoming more urgent to find a political solution to the conflict.· But the humanitarian costs are also rising – day by day.
Syria's neighbours have shown tremendous solidarity.
The impact on their societies - politically and economically – is enormous – and increasing.
At the same time, the UN's appeals remain gravely underfunded.
We cannot afford to let them remain so.
That is why Germany and Norway have decided to hold a pledging conference for Syria.
We urge all countries represented here today to attend the donor conference, and to
- take exceptional steps to pledge new funds to alleviate the suffering of Syrian refugees
- increase assistance to Syria's neighbours
- and finally, do more to reach the people in need inside Syria
A particular reason for concern – in and around Syria – is the grave situation for children and adolescents.
Their humanitarian needs – and their future chances in life – must be addressed.
An estimated 2.6 million children are out of school.
They are part of a large – and growing – share of the world's children who are being denied their right to education because of crisis and conflict.
The fact that education remains hugely underfunded is totally unacceptable.
In times of war, children are more dependent than ever on the stability, protection and learning environment that schools provide.
Without access to quality learning, children are not only being deprived of education today; they are also being robbed of future opportunities.
If you ask a child or a parent about their needs during difficult times, education features prominently in their answers.
This cannot continue to be an overlooked dimension in our responses to crises.
The funding gap must be filled – using means from both humanitarian and development aid.
However, increased funding is not enough on its own – we also need innovation.
A few days ago, Norway launched an international competition with the aim of developing a smartphone app in Arabic that can help Syrian children learn how to read, and help improve their psychosocial wellbeing.
Syria has lost too much already.
It cannot afford to lose a generation as well – which is exactly what will happen if we fail to offer its girls and boys education.
This year, Norway will allocate more than 150 million dollars in response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria and neighbouring countries.
And we will step up our funding substantially in 2016.
More than 20 % of our assistance to the Syrian people is earmarked for education.
Syria's neighbours have taken on a massive burden since the start of the crisis, not least in the education sector. They deserve our support.
There are currently 500 000 Syrian children in Lebanon. 200 000 of them are attending school.
We need to step up our assistance to the suffering people of Syria, and we must make sure that education becomes a central part of this.
Providing education is both a matter of giving assistance in a time of desperate need – and an investment in Syria's future.
The costs will be substantial, but this is nothing compared to the cost of a lost a generation in Syria.
Too many people have lost almost everything.
Let us not deprive them of the only thing they still possess – the hope for a better future.