IOM DG Attends London Pledging Conference for Syria and the Region
United Kingdom - IOM Director General William Lacy Swing attended this week’s ‘Supporting Syria and the Region 2016’ pledging conference in London co-hosted by the UK, Germany, Kuwait, Norway, and the United Nations.
The conference yesterday (4/2) built on the successes of the three previous International Pledging Conferences which took place in Kuwait, as well as on the Berlin Conference on the Syrian Refugee Situation in 2014 and the recent Resilience Development Forum in Amman.
Donors pledged over USD 10 billion, with some of the largest pledges coming from the European Union, Germany, UK, France, Norway, USA, Italy, Japan and Kuwait.
Speaking to the UK’s Guardian newspaper yesterday in London, Ambassador Swing hailed the generosity of the global community, but pointed out that aid was only part of the answer.
“The aid is an important element in a complex formula, but clearly the most important thing is to stop the war. In the meantime we have to save lives and to improve lives – and that’s by educating children and creating jobs,” he said.
He also said that solving the Syrian crisis will not solve Europe’s migration crisis by itself – since Syrians only form half of the flow towards the continent.
“I cannot remember any time in my long career in which we’ve had so many simultaneous protracted complex crises – from the Horn of Africa to the Himalayas. There’s Boko Haram in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, unfinished revolutions in Libya and Yemen, and then the big one – Syria – all this at one time. The big one is getting Syria ended, but you still have to deal with a lot of other places where people whose lives are on hold,” he added.
He also called on the international community not to forego the policy of legal resettlement as part of its response – since the increased likelihood of formal resettlement tends to encourage people to stay put in transit countries for longer.
Ahead of the London Conference, IOM Director of Emergencies and Operations Mohammed Abdiker travelled to Syria and visited affected communities in rural Damascus, including a collective centre recently rehabilitated by IOM.
IOM has set up a Primary Health Care Clinic in the centre, as well as water distribution systems serving 18,000 people, including host community members, internal displaced and returnees.
“The situation for millions of people remains catastrophic inside Syria. Families I met in rural Damascus have lost everything, and have been displaced multiple times. Worse, they are losing hope in a brighter future. Pledges expressed by the international community in London need to materialize fast in order for humanitarian partners to be able to meet basic protection needs of Syrians,” said Abdiker.
In 2015, IOM provided shelter, non-food items, livelihood support, protection, health and transportation to over six million people, in Syria and the region. IOM continues to scale up its programming to meet the challenges posed by the protracted crisis with particular emphasis on supporting stabilization and building resilience.
IOM is supporting individuals and host communities to better cope with the impact of the crisis by increasing livelihood opportunities, improving access to basic services and infrastructure as well as preserving social cohesion, Abdiker noted.
The 2016 inter-agency appeal for the Syria Crisis amounts to USD 7.73 billion, both for operations to be carried out in Syria, as well as in refugee-hosting neighbouring countries. As part of this appeal, IOM is requesting USD 254 million for its operations inside Syria, and for operation in the region, notably in Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey.