United Nations Development Group affirms support for Arab Region at a “turning point”

Oct 14, 2014

Amman, 14 October – Today the regional leadership of the United Nations Development Group met in Amman and confirmed its support for the Arab States, Middle East and North Africa region at the critical juncture it faces.

“We meet today at a turning point, between progress and crisis, between development and regression, between a brighter future and a darkness that is terrible to contemplate,” said Sima Bahous, Chair of the Regional United Nations Development Group. “We come together today to ensure that this turning point we face, is a turning point for the better.”

The United Nations Development Group is the body that coordinates and guides the development work of all development agencies funds and programmes of the United Nations System. For the last three years the UNDG has increasingly upgraded its support for the Arab States, Middle East and North Africa region, with a special focus on countries that are pursuing courses of change or are seeking to cope with or recover from crisis.

A significant portion of today’s meeting was focused on how best to respond to the crises in Syria and neighbouring countries, Libya and Yemen in a way that meets the needs of the impacted populations. In the case of Syria the response focuses on Syria as well as on countries and communities hosting Syrian refugees.

Now into its fourth year, the crisis in Syria has driven over 1.2 million refugees into Lebanon and over 600,000 into Jordan, causing strains in both countries to public services and economic opportunity while also stretching the social fabric.

Outlining a coordinated Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan for Syria and affected countries, United Nations officials called for greater support for all communities impacted by the crisis. Officials expressed resolve to support national development efforts across the Levant so that once peace is achieved around the Syria crisis, it is sustained.

“This crisis has the potential to leave a tremendous lasting impact on our societies,” said Ms. Bahous. “The time that our strongest support is needed, is now.”

Delegates also discussed the outcome of the Gaza Reconstruction Conference held in Cairo on 12 October, and outlined United Nations Development Group plans to support a rapid recovery for Gaza. Donors pledged US$5.4 billion to support the effort, while also noting that political commitment on all sides will be every bit as necessary as financial support.

“The people of Gaza deserve to live in dignity,” said Ms. Bahous. “It is a responsibility we all share.”
Officials also discussed ongoing support to countries undergoing complex challenges, such as Libya and Yemen. Officials expressed resolve that the hopes of the Arab peoples that have been so evident in recent years is not in vain.

“Never underestimate the power of the Arab peoples to achieve the brighter future they want and they deserve,” said Ms. Bahous. “It is our duty and our promise to support this region in its time of greatest need.”

The R-UNDG emphasized the magnitude and the holistic nature of the challenges facing the Arab States region. The Group agreed on a joint and coordinated response that ensures inter-linkages between humanitarian and development interventions. All participants endorsed the resilience-based approach as the way forward in addressing prolonged crises. “Through this approach, the UN will help communities cope, recover, and put in place sustainable solutions,” said Ms. Bahous.

Contact information

In Cairo:
Noeman AlSayyad noeman.alSayyad@undp.org

In New York:
Theodore Murphy theodore.murphy@undp.org

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