Gina Casar: Statement at the Berlin Conference on the Syrian Refugee Situation – Supporting Stability in the Region

Oct 28, 2014

Gina Casar, UN Under Secretary-General and UNDP Associate Administrator
at the
Berlin Conference on the Syrian Refugee Situation – Supporting Stability in the Region
Berlin, Germany


I wish to congratulate Germany on the foresight and commitment shown in convening this timely and important conference. The Syria crisis has brought violence, destruction, deaths and injuries and continues to do so. It has led to massive internal and external displacement and worsened existing vulnerabilities in an already-pressured sub-region. It has challenged the way the international community collectively responds to crises.

We all now recognize that ongoing conflict not only aggravates the humanitarian situation in Syria and neighboring countries. It also compromises the development prospects of present and future generations.

The key question before us today is how we join together our humanitarian and development efforts so that we can respond to the immediate crisis and collectively rebuild and strengthen the resilience of the most affected people and countries, helping them cope, recover and attain greater dignity.

This requires a shift in the way we think about the crisis and the way we respond to it. At UNDP, we believe the answer to this question has three essential components:

First, by providing livelihood support to Syrians inside Syria, it would enable some communities in the country to recover, it would build the resilience and through that help stem the tide of internal and external displacement. We continue to appeal to partners to open up their stabilization and development funding windows so that more people can be reached inside Syria.

Second, there is an urgent need for the international community to expand its support for building the resilience of countries and communities hosting the refugees. The support should focus on Lebanon and Jordan but also include Egypt, Iraq, and Turkey. To do this, we need to strengthen national ownership of the response and offer greater support for local communities to complement the ongoing humanitarian response to the refugee crisis.

Through livelihoods, employment, and upgraded basic services, this approach would relieve some of the current socio-economic pressures brought about by the population surge, especially into the smaller neighboring countries, and would leave a lasting legacy of improved services, infrastructure, and livelihood opportunities for host communities. The Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan, or 3RP, is an important step in the right direction. The Plan is a broad, regional partnership platform built on existing national crisis response plans which directs attention to both refugee and host community needs.

Third, in the spirit of this conference, we are developing together a new aid architecture to respond to protracted, region-wide, complex and multi-dimensional crises. At the center of this new architecture is an appreciation of the need for greater burden-sharing by the international community with the most affected countries and communities. There is also a time factor in terms of ensuring that both the immediate and mid-term impacts of the crisis continue to be addressed simultaneously. There is also a new resilience-based response, which brings together humanitarian and development actions and actors whereby quicker, cost-effective, predictable support can be achieved, in the spirit of the 3RP.  

Let me close by reiterating the sentiment echoed today—that as we look ahead, we remain hopeful for a political solution to the conflict which can build the resilience of people and restore their livelihoods in dignity and peace.

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