On Wednesday, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag announced at an international conference in Brussels that the Netherlands will continue to provide support aimed at relieving the suffering of Syrians in Syria and its neighbouring countries and helping to maintain regional stability.
The conference, which was organised by the European Union and the United Nations, was devoted to the humanitarian crisis in Syria and its impact on Lebanon and Jordan, which have been hosting millions of Syrian refugees. ‘The ongoing crisis continues to place a heavy burden on these countries,’ said the minister. ‘We cannot abandon the Syrian people, refugees and host countries Lebanon and Jordan.’
€400 million for humanitarian aid and support to regional host countries
In that spirit of solidarity the minister announced that the Netherlands would continue to support Syria and the wider region, as it has done in recent years. In line with the coalition agreement, the government has earmarked over €400 million over the next four years for humanitarian aid and to improve prospects for refugees and host communities in the region. The Netherlands will contribute to education and employment, for both refugees and host communities.
A large proportion of the pledged amount will be channelled through the UN and other international and non-governmental organisations to support Lebanon and Jordan, two new focus countries for Dutch foreign policy. Ms Kaag had previously announced the contribution for Lebanon (half of the €400 million) earlier this month at a conference in Paris. The same amount will be set aside in the years ahead for Jordan. An additional humanitarian contribution of over €20 million has been earmarked to assist the Syrian people in 2018.
A political solution
This support is needed to relieve the most acute suffering, but Ms Kaag stressed that, ultimately, a political solution would be needed to end the conflict in Syria. The Netherlands backs the UN-led process to reach a lasting solution.
The government also believes that those guilty of perpetrating atrocities in Syria should be punished. To that end, the Netherlands organised a meeting on this issue, together with Belgium, the United Kingdom, Denmark, France, Germany and Sweden. Public prosecutors, representatives of Syrian organisations and staff at the UN evidence database for Syria spoke in Brussels about boosting international cooperation on this front.