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UNDP Global

The Syria crisis, soon to enter its eighth year, is a devastating political and humanitarian crisis. Photo: UNDP


As prepared for delivery.

I would like to acknowledge the Member States in attendance, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, the High Commissioner for Refugees, and all colleagues participating in Geneva this afternoon on this critical issue concerning the Syrian people and the UN-coordinated crisis response.

The Syria crisis, soon to enter its eighth year, is a devastating political and humanitarian crisis. And it is a development crisis, with impacts spanning beyond its borders and beyond current generations. The developments of the past weeks inside Syria are deeply alarming in their devastating impact on civilians.

I visited Lebanon last week and met communities at the forefront of one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time continuing to show exceptional commitment and solidarity to people displaced by the war in Syria – now numbering nearly 1 million in Lebanon alone. I heard from officials at every level, NGOs, UN and donor colleagues how the poorest communities have generously hosted the most vulnerable Syrians and how refugees and hosts alike are being assisted by the international community and through national systems to manage day-to-day issues, such as earning an income, sending children to school, and accessing health services.

The pressures on social services, on infrastructure, on jobs, on social cohesion are immense. Yet, with the commitment of the national counterparts and the support of the international community, the country continues to strengthen its resilience in the face of these vulnerabilities.

Similar challenges prevail around the crisis-affected sub-region, particularly in Turkey and in Jordan, which together host more than 4.1 million refugees. Iraq and Egypt also host significant numbers of Syrian refugees, which place burdens on host communities, some already under serious strain from other stressors.

Since its inception in 2015 with our partner UNHCR, the 3RP has been a pioneer for what is today’s New Way of Working – even before the Grand Bargain commitments and the World Humanitarian Summit articulated in the spring of 2016.

The 3RP has played an important role in recent years in supporting the countries of the region to manage the impact of the Syria crisis. Some highlights from last year include:

  • In Lebanon, partners in the Livelihoods and Social Cohesion sector provided job training to nearly 36,000 Lebanese and Syrian refugees.

  • Supported by UNICEF, 13,000 Syrian teachers have received incentives, such as monthly remuneration, in Turkey to teach Syrian children in schools. An additional 140,000 teachers and education personnel – both Syrian and Turkish – were trained to develop a variety of relevant skills, such as classroom management, psychosocial support, and how to teach in camps and to children who have witnessed war. Nearly 3,000 Syrian health care providers received additional training so that they can work in Turkish clinics serving refugees.

  • In Jordan and Turkey, UNDP continues to work with highly-impacted municipalities, such as Irbid in Jordan and Gaziantep in Turkey, to improve waste management by providing better facilities and equipment as well as improving working conditions of waste collection.

The 2018 3RP covers five countries with a total ask of USD 4.4 billion. 41 percent of that is dedicated to resilience. Of the 8 strategic directions that underpin this year’s 3RP, I would like to highlight three.

The first is ‘strong national leadership’. We need to continue to emphasize and support national efforts, without which international assistance, however well intentioned, risks undermining national systems and national capacities.

The second is ‘enhancing economic opportunities’ for all. The London conference solidified a compact between the international community and host countries to enable them to explore policy options that facilitate legal access of refugees to the labor force in their host countries while easing access of goods and trade to European markets. Well underway to fulfill its share of the compact, Jordan has created nearly 90,000 work permits for refugees, in exchange for simplified rules of origin for Jordanian goods in EU markets. More needs to be done and this is a good example of the type of national and international cooperation fostered by the 3RP.

The third and final direction is ‘continued outreach and partnerships’. In protracted crises, such as in Syria, we cannot allow a sense of fatigue to settle in. We need to continue to ensure we are better able to balance the humanitarian needs with support to the longer-term management of development challenges. Overall funding for the regional appeal has gone down from 71 percent in 2013 to 53 percent last year. Just as concerning is the under-funding of the resilience components of the 3RP, which last year came to only 33 percent of total funding received.

Noting the upcoming Brussels Conference in April, we ask member states to redouble their efforts in support of more resilience building and livelihoods creation in host countries so that we do not reach a point of no-return on social stability.

A multipronged approach will be essential: expanding economic opportunities, trade, and innovative finance; easing of regulations; well-funded responses that are grounded in national plans, like the Jordan Response Plan and the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan; higher risk management and risk tolerance; and rapid information. We thank the leaders of these countries for their efforts and continue to call upon the international community to make good on commitments, and to maintain momentum on building a more resilient region despite many demands on resources and attention. 

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