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Philip Parham

UK Commonwealth Envoy, former British Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates

Part of UK in UAE

7th February 2016 London, UK

International community must act now on Syria

As we approach the fifth anniversary of the civil war in Syria, the most urgent humanitarian catastrophe of our time continues. A quarter of a million lives have been lost. The international community must significantly step up its efforts and act now to support the 18 million people in Syria and neighbouring countries who are in desperate need of help.

Today, the UK will co-host a conference, “Supporting Syria and the region 2016,” with Germany, Kuwait, Norway and the United Nations. It will take an ambitious new approach to provide longer term support for refugees: through concrete action on livelihoods and jobs, and improved access to education – giving refugees the skills they need for the future and the best chance of a successful return home.

The London conference will also seek to address the huge humanitarian challenges faced by the people of Syria, and raise significant new funding to meet the immediate and longer-term needs of those affected. The 2016 UN coordinated appeals for the Syria crisis call for US$7.7 billion. The governments of Syria’s neighbours who host refugees need an additional US$1.2 billion on top of that.

The UK has played a leading part in attempts to address the situation in Syria. The Prime Minister has consistently focused on providing a comprehensive solution to the refugee crisis, which deals with the root causes as well as responding to the consequences.
That means working with the international community to bring about an end to the brutal conflict. The UK’s comprehensive strategy contains three strands, covering the political, military and humanitarian dimensions.
Politically, the UK is deeply involved in the International Syria Support Group working towards a political transition to a peaceful future. With the US and UAE, the UK also co-chairs the Strategic Communications Working Group of the counter-Da’esh Coalition.
Militarily, the UK is contributing to the campaign in the region to defeat Da’esh. 16 of our fighter jets are striking Da’esh positions in Iraq and Syria. More than 500 strikes so far, with no reports of civilian casualties. Our aircraft also continue to provide niche and highly advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to the Coalition.
And as the second largest bilateral donor after the US, the UK has so far pledged over £1.1 billion to provide support such as food, shelter, medical care and clean drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people affected by the conflict.

The UAE too has been playing crucial roles. Its planes have attacked Da’esh positions in Syria. And it has been a generous contributor of humanitarian aid: DH 2.2 bn by the end of last year, including the joint UAE-Jordan refugee camp and hospital, as well as funding for polio vaccinations for children in Syria. Its generous donations at the previous international pledging conferences in Kuwait set a strong example.

The generosity shown by neighbouring countries such as Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon has saved many lives and allowed people to stay close to home, avoiding perilous journeys towards Europe.

But we all need to do more. We must act to make a safer Syria now, with an eye on reconstruction for the future. During an address to EU ambassadors last month, Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, UAE Minister for International Cooperation and Development rightly called for stronger partnerships and responses to humanitarian crises. That’s what the London Conference is about: helping the people of Syria and establishing a blueprint for the international community’s response to humanitarian catastrophes.

Syria and its people need more funding, more protection and more opportunities for the future. The international community has a responsibility to help more than four million refugees in neighbouring countries along with more than 13 million people in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria. And the Syrian people, and those supporting them, need to know that the international community will support them beyond 2016

The conference in London will bring together global leaders, NGOs, the private sector and civil society to address some of the most pressing concerns raised by the crisis. It will seek to raise significant new funding to meet both immediate and longer-term needs of those affected by the situation in Syria, and to support neighbouring countries. It will maintain pressure on all parties to the conflict to protect civilians and respect International Humanitarian Law. And it will identify ways to create jobs and provide education for refugees and their children, offering all those who have been forced to flee their homes a greater hope for the future.

This will also help to pave the way for a broader discussion at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May about how the international community can respond more effectively to protracted crises.

This event alone cannot solve Syria’s complex problems. A just and sustainable political solution remains necessary to end the conflict. But, while we do all we can to achieve that, we must help the people of Syria now.

2 comments on “International community must act now on Syria

  1. While I appreciate your sympathy on syria and its citizens I don’t see any serious support from UK government to help in the refugees crisis. However I don’t understand also the reason for UK embassy in Abu Dhabi to refuse UK visit visa applications from Syrian residences in UAE and claim the following reason: ISIL have made significant gains in the ground in Syria!!!

    I salute you for this support

    1. Dear Eyad, Thank you for your comment. The UK government has so far contributed over $3bn to assist Syrian refugees and Syrians displaced within their own country. Our previous Prime Minister, David Cameron, convened a summit in London in February at which a record was set for humanitarian pledges made for one cause in one day. We are also helping Syria’s neighbours to enable Syrian refugees to undertake gainful employment, and Syrian refugee children to receive proper education. We will continue to be at the vanguard of efforts on all this.

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About Philip Parham

Philip Parham became the UK government’s Envoy to the Commonwealth on 18 June 2018. Previously Philip was Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates from 2014 until 2018.

Philip Parham became the UK government’s Envoy to the Commonwealth on 18 June 2018. Previously Philip was Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates from 2014 until 2018.


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