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EU assistance to Lebanon and Jordan for Syrian refugees
Since the start of the crisis in Syria, the neighbouring countries of Lebanon and Jordan have received millions of refugees whom they have had to house, school and provide medical treatment.
As Federica Mogherini told MEPs, Lebanon and Jordan have given "shelter and hope" to millions feeling the war in Syria.
She also pointed out that both countries are great examples to the Middle East, Europe and the world of a peaceful coexistence among different faiths and nationalities
She also stressed it was in Europe’s self interest to help: “Our support to Jordan and Lebanon is in the best interest of the country’s citizens, of Syrian refugees, of the whole region – and of our European Union" Mogherini told the Chamber.
Turning to Lebanon she said: "There are over one million registered refugees in Lebanon. The real figure is likely to be higher, perhaps around 1.5 million, as the UNHCR is no longer allowed to register new arrivals”, she said.
“Lebanon alone hosts almost as many Syrians as the entire European Union. Those who believe that refugees will destroy our Union should look at these figures and feel ashamed."
She went on to talk about Jordan: "There are over 630,000 registered refugees in Jordan: the recent census shows 1.2 million Syrians are in the country. But let us also keep in mind that we are talking about real people, with names and faces, not just about statistics."
And Europe is providing as much support as possible: “No one has invested as much as the European Union in helping Syrian refugees, almost 6 billion euro has been mobilised. The resilience of Lebanon and Jordan is strategic also for our own security”.
Venezuela crisis: EU offers help to break political deadlock
The situation in crisis-hit Venezuela was also discussed in Parliament by the High Representative. Despite "such rich human and natural resources", she said, "the political and economic situation in Venezuela is becoming more difficult by the day.”
The High Representative called for assistance for Venezuela: “The people of Venezuela are suffering from violence, shortages of food and medical care.”
She said only dialogue and cooperation among institutions could end the crisis and serve the real interests of the citizens of Venezuela.
The High Representative remarked that the EU is not just a “distant observer”, as hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans hold a European passport, as dual nationals and many European companies have invested in the country, generating jobs and growth jobs.
Mogherini had a direct message for Caracas: "This is not about interfering in Venezuela’s domestic affairs. But we have a duty to offer our Venezuelan friends all the help they might need…I really hope the country’s leaders will accept a helping hand."
West Bank demolitions
In the final debate on Tuesday night in Strasbourg the High Representative also spoke about West Bank displacement and demolitions by Israel - including of EU-funded projects.
In the first quarter of 2016 some 500 houses and other structures have been demolished – and 650 people displaced. Approximately 20% of those structures are EU-funded. The HRVP invited all the European members of parliament to join forces and work together for the common goal of a two-state solution.
"We all know how fragile the Holy Land is", she underlined, but "we need to keep focusing on the two-State solution – even when Israel and Palestine don’t make the headlines."
"The expansion of settlements challenges the two-State solution. So does the growing trend of demolitions and confiscations of Palestinian structures, including those funded by the European Union and Member States. The same goes for the worsening living conditions of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza". She stressed that "to be clear from the outset, demolitions and Israel’s settlement policy are not the only challenges to the two-State solution. Terrorist attacks and hate speech challenge the two States. The lack of Palestinian unity challenges the two States. A growing sense of disillusion and despair – on both sides – is a powerful enemy of peace."
Only a serious and meaningful peace process can lead out of the current downward spiral, she insisted, "we continue to work on a daily basis on two states living side by side, in peace and in security, to end the conflict and all claims. The Quartet report will address these issues and will also include some substantial recommendations for the way forward, and I will be very glad to discuss the report with you in the coming weeks in one of the next part-sessions, because we know very well that what is key is working at the concrete perspective of the two states and how to put that in place in the near future."
She finished by saying: "I know this sounds like a daydream today, but we need to keep that daydream alive and to turn it into reality. We know very well, as Europeans at least, that this is the only way out of the cycle that we are seeing today, and we are stubbornly working in that direction."