Delegation of the European Union to Syria

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In the almost ten years since civil war began in Syria, I have followed closely its appalling developments and the horrors that the Syrian people have gone through. I come from a country that went through a civil war and perfectly know how it divides and destroys a society.

More than 12 million Syrians, half of the pre-war population, had to flee their homes. Over half a million have lost their lives. An entire generation of Syrian children has only known war. As Europeans, we have collectively been unable to stop these massacres at the gates of our continent. When we pursue our efforts to build a stronger Common Foreign and Security Policy for the EU, I often think of Syria and what we could have done there.

The conference succeeded in mobilising aid to Syrians inside the country and in the neighbouring countries, including for hosting communities, through pledges totalling US$ 5.5 billion (€4.9 billion) for 2020, and multi-year pledges of close to US$ 2.2 billon (€2 billion) for 2021 and beyond.

The Fourth Conference on "Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region" took place on 30 June 2020 in a virtual format. It was hosted by the European Union (EU) and co-chaired with the United Nations (UN). The Conference was preceded by virtual Days of Dialogue and by a week of side events.

At the fourth Brussels Conference on “Supporting the future of Syria and the Region”, the international community pledged a total of €6.9 billion for Syria and the main countries hosting Syrian refugees . The European Union overall pledged 71%, or €4.9 billion, with €2.3 billion from Member States.

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I just chaired the opening session of the fourth Brussels Conference on supporting the future of Syria and the region, alongside United Nations Under-Secretary-General, Mark Lowcock, and United Nations Special Envoy, Geir Pedersen.

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 Ministers, colleagues, I would like to extend to you my warm thanks for having accepted this invitation to the fourth Brussels Conference on supporting the future of Syria and the region.

I am pleased to co-host this Conference with United Nations Under-Secretary-General Mark Lowcock, who is representing Secretary General [of the United Nations, António] Guterres today.   

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The Syria conflict is entering its tenth year. Tenth year of an awful war that has caused the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War. Over half a million people have died and half of Syria’s entire population had to flee their homes. An entire generation of Syrian children has only known war.

Ahead of the ministerial segment of the Brussels Conference on “Supporting the future of Syria and the region” the High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell attended, together with UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen, a virtual meeting with members of the Syrian Civil Society Support Room. This conversation was part of the ongoing extensive exchanges with a very broad range of Syrian civil society actors that have taken place throughout last week. The outcomes of these discussions will be feeding into the Ministerial Event on Tuesday.

Ten years into the conflict, the situation in Syria is still critical, with millions of Syrians displaced and in need of humanitarian protection and assistance. The level of violence remains high and there is little progress in sight towards a sustainable resolution of the conflict.

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Torture denies the dignity of the human being. Its victims suffer both visible and invisible wounds. And this is still the horrifying reality today. On International Day in support of Victims of Torture, EU High Representative Josep Borrrell states “At a time when the world is joining efforts to overcome the coronavirus pandemic, human rights must remain at the core of our battle. On this day, we give a voice to the hundreds of thousands of people who have been victims of torture and those who are still tortured today.”

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