National leadership key to effective responses to the Syria crisis in neighboring countries

Jan 15, 2014

Kuwait City –  United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Chair of the Arab States/Middle East and North Africa Regional United Nations Development Group (UNDG) Sima Bahous appealed to the international community to scale-up investment in national development processes to mitigate the impact of the Syria crisis on neighbouring countries. Bahous made her appeal at a special event organized today in Kuwait City, within the framework of the Kuwait II International Pledging Conference for Syria.

Co-organized by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the UNDG, the event featured presentations by the Governments of Jordan and Lebanon on their development response plans to the Syria crisis and their priorities for international support and financing.  Egypt, Iraq and Turkey were also given the opportunity to share their priorities in relation to the Syria crisis.  

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was also represented, being a key counterpart in supporting needs assessment studies conducted in Lebanon and Jordan and the development of their national development response plans.

 “To prevent the conflict from sowing decades of poverty in the region, the international community must increase support for immediate relief while also bolstering development efforts focused on strengthening the medium- and longer-term outlook and helping countries impacted by the crisis to return to their development pathways,” emphasized Bahous following the event.

The Syrian crisis involves the largest forced movement of people since the end of the Second World War.  It has forced 2.3 million people to flee Syria into neighbouring countries. Most of them (80%) do not live in refugee camps but amidst host communities, severely impacting social cohesion in those communities as well as municipal and social services, such as health, education, sanitation, housing and socio-economic infrastructure.

Refugees now make up more than 20% of the population in Lebanon and approximately 10 % in Jordan – both figures are expected to rise throughout 2014.

The protracted nature of the Syria crisis and its impact on its immediate sub-region has galvanized an international consensus that this is not only a political crisis nor a humanitarian crisis, alone, but also a development crisis.

 “The crisis is not only challenging operational approaches and coordination mechanisms that the international community traditionally adopts in situation of such crises, but also the aid architecture itself, compelling us to venture beyond the standard separation between humanitarian interventions and development support,” said Bahous.

She reiterated the support of the UNDG to Jordan and Lebanon in the implementation of their national development responses and confirmed the organization of a Regional Development Forum before mid-2014 to rally all development players, from civil society organisations, regional institutions and the private sector to ensure a collective, coordinated and consistent support to concerned governments to address the impact of the Syria crisis.

The Kuwait Conference brief included financial details of the national plans for Lebanon and Jordan. The financial requirements for the Lebanon Stabilization Plan for 2014 amount to approximately US$625 million, to support priority interventions that are detailed in the Roadmap. The National Resilience Plan for Jordan provided indicative funding requirements of approximately $1.3 billion for the first year of the three year plan.

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