Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide commented, “The situation in Syria is precarious. The humanitarian needs are so great that the UN and other humanitarian organisations are unable to meet them in the present situation. Funding is vital, but it is equally important that the parties to the conflict allow humanitarian organisations access so that they can help those in need.”
The UN has launched a new six-month humanitarian response plan for Syria, and a regional response plan for Syrian refugees in the neighbouring countries. There is a particularly urgent need for food, shelter and medicines. The UN estimates that at least four million people need humanitarian assistance in Syria. There are more than two million internally displaced, and more than 60 000 have been killed since the conflict started. The number of refugees in neighbouring countries is increasing at a dramatic rate, and now totals more than 700 000. The UN estimates that this figure will have risen to 1.1 million by the summer. The conflict in Syria is not only creating a huge humanitarian problem; at worst it could undermine political stability throughout the region. In order to relieve the escalating humanitarian crisis, the UN has asked the international community to provide more than USD 1.5 billion to fund humanitarian efforts.
In addition to helping to relieve the humanitarian situation in Syria, Norway will also support Lebanon in its efforts to help refugees from Syria. Lebanon is a small country with a population smaller than Norway’s. It has now received more than 200 000 Syrian refugees.
“Norway will focus considerable attention on the situation in Lebanon. Lebanon is particularly vulnerable to negative effects of the conflict in Syria due to its own internal political tensions, which have previously led to a long civil war. Norway will allocate NOK 60 million to help the Lebanese authorities and the UN to provide for the huge increase of refugees from Syria,” said Mr Eide.
Torgeir Larsen, State Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, led the Norwegian delegation to the international donor conference for Syria, which was organised jointly by the UN and the Kuwaiti authorities.
With this latest contribution, Norway’s total support for humanitarian assistance in Syria and to Syrian refugees in the neighbouring countries since the crisis started in 2011 amounts to NOK 425 million.