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Syria donors conference pledges 6.9 billion euros

Jordan says voluntary return of refugees ‘real solution’ to crisis

By JT - Jun 30,2020 - Last updated at Jun 30,2020

Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi and Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Wissam Rabadi participate in the Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region conference via videoconference on Tuesday (Petra photo)

AMMAN — International donors pledged 6.9 billion euros ($7.7 billion) to face the ongoing humanitarian challenges of the nine-year Syrian crisis, the EU announced on Tuesday.

The pledges were made at the Brussels IV conference hosted by the European Union and United Nations to assist war-affected people inside and outside Syria, AFP reported.

"I wish to stress that today's event comes in particular difficult time," EU Commissioner for crisis management Janez Lenarcic told reporters.

Against the "sobering background" of the coronavirus pandemic, "we must be all the more pleased with the overall pledge of support," he said.

“An entire generation of Syrian children has only known war and it is still not over,” AFP quoted EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell as saying. 

Addressing foreign ministers, international organisations participating in the conference, Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi highlighted the role of the international community in sharing the burden of hosting refugees with host countries through helping to meet the needs of refugees, whose voluntary return to their country is the “real solution” to the crisis. 

“Our meeting today is yet another tangible and effective demonstration of the commitment of the EU, the UN and all of you to keep the plight of Syrian refugees on the international agenda, and to ensure practical measures to support them,” the foreign minister said.

In this regard, Safadi called for continuing cooperation to meet the needs of refugees, especially since refugee burdens are “not the responsibilities of host countries alone”, according to a Foreign Ministry statement. 

“Refugees cannot be the responsibility of host countries alone. It is a joint responsibility for all of us. Now more than before, as we face the crippling economic impact of the pandemic, continued international support is key to ensuring that we maintain our support for refugees,” the minister said.

The foreign minister also highlighted the importance of intensifying efforts to reach a political solution to the crisis, which has caused “unbearable suffering, pain and destruction”.

The envisioned political solution “must be accepted by Syrians”, maintain the unity of Syria and restore the security and stability of the country and its “key role” in the region, in addition to providing favourable circumstances for the return of refugees, he added.

Safadi added that Syria “must live in peace” and that Syrians have the right to a “normal and safe life”.

Jordan will continue working with its allies and partners to reach a solution to the crisis and will persist, until then, in offering the care necessary for refugees, the minister said, noting: “This is a huge challenge. But with your support, we will meet it.” 

He added that the Kingdom hosts more than 1.3 million “Syrian brothers” in accordance with Jordanian values to “help the vulnerable and welcome them as guests”.

The minister also pointed out that the Kingdom has received more than 134,000 Syrian students, which has put pressure on the education sector and required a two-shift day at some schools. Jordan also granted work permits to some 190,000 Syrians at a time when the country was suffering from unemployment rates that exceeded 19 per cent, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Safadi urged the international community to support the Jordan Response Plan for the Syrian Crisis for the coming year, which has an estimated cost of $6.6 billion, stressing that supporting Jordan’s economic capabilities entails maintaining the Kingdom’s ability to help refugees.

The minister also expressed appreciation for participating countries’ support for UNRWA and the rights of Palestinian refugees.

Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Wissam Rabadi also participated in the conference.

Also during the conference, US Special Representative for Syria Engagement Ambassador James Jeffrey announced more than $696 million in additional humanitarian assistance for the people of Syria in response to the ongoing crisis.

According to a US embassy statement, this brings the total US humanitarian response to more than $11.3 billion since the start of the Syrian crisis.

On the eve of a key conference, Oxfam and other leading aid groups had called for increased access and funding for millions of Syrians at risk of starvation.

After the pledges, Marta Lorenzo, Oxfam’s Middle East director, said the amounts were “simply not enough”, according to AFP.

“It’s shocking that the international community has failed to recognise the urgency of the situation despite clear calls from Syrian civil society,” she said.

The previous donors’ conference for Syria in 2019 had raised nearly $7 billion in pledges.

 

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