Helen Clark: Statement at the Support Syria and the Region Conference

Feb 4, 2016


The protracted nature of the Syrian crisis challenges us all to search for the most effective ways of responding to the needs of the many millions of people who are impacted by it.

It has become increasingly clear that alongside the enormous humanitarian relief effort there must be increased investment in building the resilience of people and communities – within Syria, and within the countries in the neighbourhood who host many refugees.

Development actors can respond with support for jobs and livelihoods, for education and health provision, and for basic services like water, sanitation, electricity, and waste disposal. There should be a special emphasis on meeting the needs of women and girls and vulnerable groups.

Access to opportunities and services like these supports people to live in dignity in areas in Syria not directly engulfed in conflict, and supports refugees and their host communities in neighbouring nations.

The need for investment in both relief and resilience is well reflected in this year’s UN appeals. There is now also strong and welcome recognition of the need for more support for the neighbouring countries who have accommodated over four million Syrians. Increased investments and concessional finance and/or grants would help the neighbours to implement their national response plans and boost their economies, services, and infrastructure to meet the needs of increased populations.

More effective responses to the Syria crisis, which balance humanitarian and development needs, depend critically on increased and sustained levels of support from international partners. I urge all present to seize the opportunity of this year’s appeals to renew and strengthen your commitment, for 2016 and beyond, to building a better future for the many millions of people affected by the Syria crisis.

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Helen Clark became the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme in 2009, and is the first woman to lead the organization. She also chairs the United Nations Development Group.

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