Helen Clark: Statement at the Briefing on the Syria Response [Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP), and Neighboring Countries]

Jan 12, 2016

The Syria crisis is nearing the end of its fifth year. While work goes on for a political solution to the crisis, many millions of people inside Syria and in neighbouring countries require international support. 

Many partners have been generous in assisting refugees, the countries and communities hosting them, and Syrians who remain in Syria. Yet, as last year’s images of Syrians undertaking very risky journeys to Europe in the hope of a better life there showed, much more needs to be done. We have been reminded of that again forcefully in recent days by the very distressing images from Madaya, Syria. The Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) and the Syria Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) outline how partners can help.

These are not business-as-usual plans.  Conventional approaches of “relief now, development later” do not work in response to the Syria crisis or other similar protracted crises.  Refugees, host communities and internally displaced people in Syria need livelihoods. They need basic services, like health, education, water, sanitation, electricity, and garbage removal. And they need hope for a better future.

Last November, UNDP organized the Resilience Development Forum at the Dead Sea in Jordan. It was co–hosted by the Government of Jordan and attended by more than 200 partners.  The Forum came to a shared understanding on critical issues which need to be addressed in managing the impact of the Syria crisis and strengthening the resilience of people and communities. 

A key issue identified was the need to ensure better integration of meeting immediate humanitarian needs with short, medium, and long term resilience initiatives building livelihoods and services. I am therefore delighted to join the heads of OCHA and UNHCR today in promoting these integrated humanitarian and development plans. It is to be hoped that this can become the normal approach for international support to protracted crises.

The Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) is jointly managed by UNDP and UNHCR, and is the basis for pledging at the London Conference on the Syria Crisis on support for Syrian refugees and host countries and communities. By integrating humanitarian and development efforts around common country objectives, the 3RP has become a key mechanism for a more sustainable and effective response to the Syria crisis in the neighbourhood.

In close co-operation with the Governments of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, the resilience share of the 3RP appeal, has increased from 29 per cent of the total ask in 2015, to 38 per cent (approximately USD 1.7 billion) in the current appeal.

With an increased resilience budget, the 3RP for 2016 can provide an important boost to the capacities of overstretched host countries and to the wellbeing of refugees and host communities in key areas:

• On livelihoods and jobs, funding the 3RP will help equip refugees and host community members to provide for themselves and their families through a  mixture of  support to job creation, SME development, and improved value chains in agriculture;

• On social services, such as education, health and social protection, it will strengthen the institutional capacities and infrastructure needed to improve responses, access to services, and the quality of service delivery.

• On food security, it will improve early warning systems, and support small-scale farming – including on the introduction of climate smart approaches.

• On water and sanitation, it will allow for improved sustainable, potable water supplies and sanitation facilities forhouseholds, schools, and clinics.

Clearly the full impact of the Syria crisis on people cannot be addressed without providing support within Syria itself. While insecurity within the country is a driver of internal and external migration, lack of economic opportunities and basic services are drivers too. Most Syrians are still in Syria. By building resilience inside the country, many Syrians can be supported to stay there, and be positioned to contribute to the recovery when a political settlement is reached. 

There are many opportunities to assist Syrians – for example, in areas of relative safety, or in areas of newly realized ceasefires which could increase in number this year. Even under current conditions, UN and other organisations have already undertaken a number of initiatives to build resilience.  UNDP estimates that its programmes have reached some 4.4 million people directly or indirectly from the beginning of 2014 through to the end of last year.

At the London conference, the UN system operating inside Syria will request funding to cover humanitarian and resilience and early recovery activities. The latter will include support for livelihoods and the rehabilitation of basic services and infrastructure as outlined in the two key plans for the 2016-17 period:

1. The Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) which has a budget of USD 150 million to cover an estimated nine million people in need under the Early Recovery and Livelihoods pillar; and

2. The Strategic Framework developed by the UN Country Team in Syria which is focused on building resilience over a two year period with an “ask” of a further USD 300 million over 2 years

Funding the UN appeal at the London Conference on Syria is critical for supporting people inside Syria, and Syrians and their hosts in the sub-region. Without adequate funding, an effective and integrated humanitarian and development response to the Syria crisis cannot be achieved. The consequences of that would be more suffering by people in Syria and the neighbourhood, and probably another summer like that of 2015 as even more people attempt desperate and dangerous journeys out of Syria and the sub-region. Providing support where it is needed now in Syria and the sub-region can help people retain dignity and build their resilience while efforts go on to bring this dreadful and protracted conflict to an end.

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