UNHCR Chief Grandi on the 6th anniversary of the war in Syria

Syria is at a crossroads. Unless drastic measures are taken to shore up peace and security, the situation will worsen.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi addresses the crowd, moments before UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie delivers the Annual Sergio Vieira de Mello Memorial Lecture at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. ; On 15 March 2017, Angelina Jolie renewed her contract with UNHCR and her commitment to refugees around the world during a one-day visit to Geneva. At UNHCR headquarters, Jolie addressed hundreds of staff, saying: "This is like coming home. I was first here 16 years ago and had no idea what was ahead of me.” During her time working with UNHCR the number of refugees has increased from 22 million to 65 million. As the global challenge reaches critical point, Jolie urged staff to "step forward and say who we are and who we fight for and work even harder." She later delivered the Annual Sergio Vieira de Mello Memorial Lecture at the Palais des Nations, in memory of the UN diplomat killed in a terror attack in Iraq in 2003.

“On the sixth anniversary of Syria’s conflict, we must remember those who are suffering most from this calamity – the 4.9 million refugees, the 6.3 million people displaced internally, and the millions more inside Syria living in daily fear of this war and the inhumanity it has created.

Syria is at a crossroads. Unless drastic measures are taken to shore up peace and security, the situation will worsen.

Syria’s trauma goes beyond its borders. The outflow of people and the seemingly unstoppable conflict have contributed to the climate of anxiety we see today in many countries. As I have said before, if you don’t solve problems, the problems come to you.

Syria’s children, whether at home or in refugee communities elsewhere, are its future. One of its few sources of hope.

I saw for myself on a recent visit to Syria how this war is affecting people, children especially. Today, even basic infrastructure is in ruins. Healthcare, schools, water and power supplies are unreliable or being controlled by warring parties for their own ends.

All this matters, because children make up half the population – of whom a third were born since the conflict began. Syria’s war has lasted longer than World War Two in Europe. This is unconscionable. Syria’s children, whether at home or in refugee communities elsewhere, are its future. One of its few sources of hope.

UNHCR supports Syrian refugees and those hosting them. We must also plan for a tomorrow when refugees might safely be able to return. The resolve of the international community to support the vast joint humanitarian and development effort that is needed must not waiver, now or then.”