EU support for Syrians won’t end
The conflict in Syria has entered its 10th year. Ten years of war, suffering and grief. And it’s still not over. Syrians continue to live in fear and despair, their future held hostage. While the war has forced half the population to flee their homes, those who stayed behind are facing an unprecedented economic crisis and the threat of the coronavirus disease.
At this week’s fourth Brussels Conference on “Supporting the future of Syria and the region,” more than 80 countries, regional and international organizations and UN agencies will sit around a virtual round table to address all the key dimensions of the Syrian crisis: Political, humanitarian, financial, and regional. We will reaffirm our strong support to the UN’s efforts for a political solution to the conflict and to the terms of UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution 2254. A political solution, reached through a UN-mediated, inclusive, Syrianled and Syrian-owned dialogue, is the only way of achieving sustainable peace in Syria. The alternative is ever more misery caused by the obstinate determination of the long-discredited regime.
This year, on top of being the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War, Syria is close to economic collapse. The regime’s mismanagement of the economy, widespread corruption, the financial crisis in neighboring Lebanon and the coronavirus pandemic have brought the country’s economy to its knees. The situation is dire.
Syrians want the same things as every person and family anywhere else in the world: Personal security, jobs and a future for their children. In other words, they need prospects for the future. The EU and its member states have been supporting Syrians everywhere since the start of the conflict. More than €20 billion ($22.5 billion) has been provided in humanitarian, stabilization and resilience assistance since 2011 — for Syrians in Syria and in support of the neighboring countries.
We are very grateful for the solidarity shown by Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey in particular. They are looking after more than 5.6 million Syrian refugees. These countries are struggling with complex domestic situations; they continue to need assistance to meet the growing needs of both the refugees and their own people. The EU is also helping them. Today, we want to tell the
Syrian people and the people of the countries hosting the refugees that we know what they have been going through, that we care and that we will continue to stand by them.
We know that the Syrian refugees’ dearest dream is to go back home. We are ready to help make this happen once the conditions are in place. But to what home? We know that the stability necessary for the reconciliation and reconstruction of Syria will only come once the regime renounces brutality and embarks on a process of genuine political dialogue, backed with tangible changes and moves that will heal Syria’s wounds.
That was, is and remains our goal. Our motto is that the Syrian people must decide the future of Syria. The EU will stand by them in doing so.
Josep Borrell, a former Spanish Foreign Minister, is High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
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