Supporting Syria and the Region: London Conference 2016. First Thematic Pledging Session (Humanitarian). Remarks by Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, London, 4 February 2016
Ladies and Gentlemen,
You know the facts. The war in Syria has forced half of its people out of their homes. Over 4.5 million Syrians have become refugees - most of them in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt - one of the largest refugee crises in UNHCR's history. Some Palestinians have become refugees for a second time.
I speak here on behalf of 200 partners working together in very innovative ways in a USD4.5 billion Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan - you just heard about it from Stephen O'Brien. We want to ensure that refugee rights are upheld everywhere and that they have access to shelter, food and healthcare. This must continue. But we also want to create opportunities for education and livelihoods. This is what refugees want desperately. Funding gaps in the past have meant gaps in our ability to respond. They have left too many host communities overwhelmed. Too many refugees in desperate need have fallen through the cracks and, as we speak, many are moving to the shores of Europe.
Donors have given generously since 2012 in the successive conferences hosted by Kuwait. Thank you. But refugees are getting more vulnerable. We see it in our daily work. I saw it myself in my visit to the region, the first as High Commissioner for refugees a few days ago. A significant increase in pledges, and we've already heard very good news this morning, is urgently needed to offer much-needed opportunity and stability.
Today's conference also includes development support and we will hear from Helen Clark on this. From my perspective let me stress that it will prepare refugees for their eventual return to Syria too. This is of crucial importance.
And there are other ways to share responsibility. We estimate that at least 10% of refugees are especially vulnerable. UNHCR is organizing a high level meeting on resettlement and other legal pathways for Syrian refugees on the 30th March which will be open by the Secretary General. I invite all governments to also support that event.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The parties to the conflict have so far, over and over again, eluded their responsibility to stop the war. This is tragic. And this is what prevents us from stopping to have to come here and make pledges for assistance. But while efforts to bring peace hopefully continue, we must not fail in our responsibility to help and protect victims. This is now a global responsibility and today we have that opportunity.