In 2017, Norway maintained its substantial humanitarian support for civilians affected by the conflict in Syria. ‘The war in Syria is a terrible tragedy that has caused several hundred thousand deaths and forced millions of civilians to flee their homes. It is crucial that the international community steps up its support. Norway provided more than NOK 2.5 billion in aid in 2017. This funding has saved lives, supported civilians affected by ISIL attacks, and provided education opportunities for 1.2 million children in Syria and its neighbouring countries,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.
The Syrian crisis is one of the worst humanitarian disasters of our time; more than 13 million people are in need of assistance within the country and 5.5 million Syrians have been forced to flee their homes, most of them to neighbouring countries. Nevertheless, the international community has provided only about half the funding requested by the UN and humanitarian organisations in order to meet the huge needs.
Norway is the fifth largest donor country to the humanitarian response in the region, and is well on its way to providing the NOK 10 billion in aid to Syria and its neighbouring countries over a four-year period that was pledged at the donor conference in London in 2016. The generous contributions by the Norwegian people, the business sector and NGOs comes in addition.
‘I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the organisations we work with. Their efforts to alleviate one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises are truly impressive. I also commend the work being done to modernise and improve results, including the use of cash transfers for refugees. In addition, we have strengthened efforts to eliminate gender-based violence,’ Ms Eriksen Søreide said.
Norway’s humanitarian aid is channelled through the UN, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and Norwegian humanitarian organisations. Their humanitarian efforts focus on those who are most in need of assistance and the areas where access is possible. The humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence form the basis for Norway’s humanitarian aid.
Education for children and young people in conflict is a priority for Norway. At least 15 % of Norway’s support in 2017 was allocated to education efforts in Syria and its neighbouring countries.
‘Schools have been bombed, pupils have been killed, and teachers have fled. Support for education is crucial for ensuring that as few children as possible miss out on their schooling, for maintaining a sufficient standard of education, and for ensuring good learning outcomes for pupils in an extremely difficult situation. We must give priority to the children and young people of Syria. They will be the ones responsible for Syria’s future when the war is over,’ Ms Eriksen Søreide said.
Norway is also supporting efforts to find a political solution to the conflict in Syria.
‘We are providing both economic and political support for the UN Special Envoy for Syria. Norway has allocated funding to promote the inclusion of women and representatives from civil society in peace talks. We believe that an inclusive solution reached through negotiations is the best way to achieve sustainable peace in Syria. The conflict must be brought to an end,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.
Norway has provided more than NOK 8.7 billion in assistance to Syria and its neighbouring countries since the conflict started in 2011. Around NOK 2.25 billion has been allocated so far for further efforts in 2018.
Outcomes achieved as a result of Norway’s support in 2017:
- Around 1.2 million Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon received food assistance in the form of cash transfers or food vouchers through the World Food Programme (WFP).
- More than 1.2 million children in Syria and its neighbouring countries received schooling through the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Nearly half of them are girls. Among other things, Norwegian funding was used to renovate schools, train teachers and provide intensive courses for pupils who were not able to attend ordinary schools.
- More than 200 000 people received health services in connection with reproductive health issues and gender-based violence through the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). These services included emergency treatment, advice and information.
- Around one million people in Syria were given better access to water and sanitation and facilities through various Norwegian Church Aid programmes.
- More than 150 000 consultations and treatments were delivered in Lebanon by mobile health clinics supported by the Red Cross. The services provided by these clinics include primary health care, midwifery and children’s healthcare, treatment for victims of gender-based violence, and psychosocial treatment for Syrian refugees and vulnerable members of the local community.
- Several thousand farmers and their families increased their food production due to improvements in animal husbandry and the cultivation of wheat, potatoes and vegetables, through various Norwegian People’s Aid programmes.
- Internally displaced persons in Syria and refugees in the neighbouring countries received information and legal assistance from the Norwegian Refugee Council in connection with registration of identification papers and property ownership.