UNDP Statement at VII Brussels conference

June 15, 2023

High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Joseph Borrell,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Achim Steiner, I would like to deliver the following statement:

As the Syria crisis continues into its 13th year, this gathering is another clear demonstration of the international community’s unwavering commitment to the Syrian people -- both inside and outside Syria.

In so many ways, that solidarity is being led by countries of the region – Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Türkiye – that continue to generously host Syrian refugees amidst a period of continued socio-economic turbulence.

Inside Syria: a Call for Investment in Early Recovery

First, I would like to outline the current situation inside Syria as people continue to be impacted by a ‘perfect storm’ of overlapping crises including the grinding conflict, surging inflation and the shattering effect of the earthquakes earlier this year.

People are sliding deeper into poverty and finding it overwhelmingly difficult to make ends meet.

Today, the number of people in need has reached 15.3 million people – a massive 40% increase since 2020.

Of deep concern is the fact that 7 out of 10 people currently require humanitarian assistance.

The lack of funds and capacities and the destruction of infrastructure have severely undermined basic services.

Frequent blackouts of Syria’s electricity system are disrupting critical services which are already very limited, including water, health and education, and further curtailing people’s ability to earn a livelihood.

In these unprecedented circumstances, “Early recovery is widely accepted as a way forward,” -- a message that was articulated in the 2023 Senior Officials Meeting on Syria earlier this year.

It can provide a hope of a better tomorrow by making the vulnerable more self-reliant and less dependent on emergency & humanitarian assistance.

That means providing support for livelihoods and supporting access to essential services at the local level, in health, education, water, food and energy sectors.

As has been underlined over the past two years and reiterated at the Senior Officials Meeting early recovery is also a smart investment that needs to be scaled up.

In this context, for 2023, the Early Recovery and Livelihoods sector of the Syria Humanitarian Response Plan, led by UNDP, requires a relatively modest $303 million.

If fully funded, the sector will directly reach three million vulnerable people across the country in 2023 -- in addition to the families and communities -- thereby substantially reducing humanitarian needs.

In 2022, despite being only 11% funded, this support benefited some 1.3 million people.

As the situation inside Syria worsens, I call on the international community to fully fund the early recovery sector and allow vulnerable Syrians the ability to better cope and lead dignified lives, while remaining inside Syria.