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Patel: Syria progress at risk without new push in 2017

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After visiting Jordan and Lebanon, Priti Patel welcomed progress for Syrian refugees but warned that more intrenational help was needed.

International Development Secretary Priti Patel today warned that international efforts must be redoubled if the much needed humanitarian pledges made at last year’s London Syria Conference are to be delivered. Her call came as the UK published the latest data tracking the progress of all major donors against their promises. Following a 2 day visit to Lebanon and Jordan, Ms Patel welcomed the progress made in getting children into school and Syrian refugees into work – the focus of the 2016 Conference.

That includes new training and job opportunities for tens of thousands of Syrian refugees and more than 75,000 children enrolled in schools in Lebanon and Jordan. New funding has also significantly exceeded the $6 billion total promised for 2016 at the Syria Conference, with $8 billion allocated last year. International Development Secretary Priti Patel said:

This time last year, the world came together in the face of a relentlessly brutal conflict and agreed to actions that would give hope to Syrian refugees. Alongside the life-saving emergency support UK aid provides we have prioritised opportunities for refugees to work and ensure a generation of Syria children were not denied an education.

I have seen for myself in Lebanon and Jordan how that approach is working. UK aid is saving and transforming lives while giving refugees a reason to remain close to home rather than risking their lives in the crossing to Europe.

But the job is only half done. It is now critical that donors deliver on their long-term funding pledges. The protracted crisis in Syria is the defining humanitarian challenge of our time and history will judge us if the international community does not deliver on the support Syrian refugees and the region needs.

The International Development Secretary made clear that donors and host countries must significantly step up their efforts in 2017 to deliver on promises to create more than one million jobs and to ensure every child affected by the Syria crisis has the chance of an education. She has called for:

  • donors to deliver predictable, multi-year funding so host countries can plan their long term response – that means ensuring the 2017 UN appeals are funded, but also providing new loans to support jobs and growth in the region

  • governments in the region to work with key international financial institutions and UN agencies to develop a credible pipeline of job-creating projects

  • host countries to complete the reform of their economies to support business creation, remove remaining legislative restrictions on work, and attract investment

  • donors, NGOs and education providers to work with regional governments to improve the quality of education through support to teacher training, school management and standards

  • more support to non-formal education, so children who have been out of school can catch up quickly before joining formal school

  • the international community and host countries to jointly tackle barriers that are stopping children attending school, including child labour and adolescent marriage.

The Syria Conference was held in London on February 4th 2016 and co-hosted by the UK. Over the last year, the UK has pushed other donors to keep pace in responding to the crisis and to deliver on their promises. That includes the publication today of the second edition of the Pledge Tracker Report, produced by the UK and designed to hold donors to account for the financial promises they made at the Syria Conference.

Although the report shows that total funding pledges made at the Syria Conference have been exceed, it also highlights that more than a fifth of donors have either not delivered on their promises or are spending the money but not reporting back in a co-ordinated way. The Pledge Tracker Report is intended to highlight such failings and bring pressure on non-compliant donors to address them.

Along with new funding exceeding the $6 billion pledged, other key results in the 12 months since the Syria Conference took place on 4 February 2016 include:

  • work permits issued to 37,000 Syrians in Jordan, nearly a tenfold increase in the last year

  • an innovative pilot programme with SMEs in Lebanon to deliver jobs for refugees and the poorest Lebanese

  • a UK-supported trade deal that will allow Jordanian exporters easier access to the EU market

  • more than 75,000 children enrolled in schools in Jordan and Lebanon in 2016, as well as teacher training and an increase in school places

  • more than half a million children inside Syria receiving formal primary or secondary education thanks to UK support

  • loans and grants to help set up Special Economic Zones and provide refugees with training and job opportunities in Jordan.

Notes to editors

  1. The new figures set out in today’s report show that both the UK’s own pledge of £510 million as well as the total $6 billion promised by the international community as a whole for 2016 have been exceeded. The UK has spent £550 million and Conference donors have now allocated $8 billion, $6.2 billion of which has already been spent. The report can be seen on the London Conference website.

  2. The London Conference on Syria and the region took place on 4 February 2016 and was co-hosted by the UK, along with Germany, Kuwait, Norway and the United Nations. It brought together more than 60 countries and organisations, including 33 heads of state and Governments. In excess of $12 billion was pledged by the international community – more than has ever been committed for a humanitarian crisis in a single day.

  3. Historic ‘Compact’ agreements with Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan aimed to create at least 1.1 million jobs so that refugees have a livelihood closer to home, as well as creating jobs for local people and fuelling economic growth in the region. Refugee hosting countries agreed to ensure that no child missed out on the chance of an education as a result of the conflict, including a pledge to deliver education to all refugee and host community children in countries neighbouring Syria.

  4. The UN has launched an $8 billion appeal to meet humanitarian needs inside Syria and across the region in 2017, highlighting that the conflict in Syria remains one of the world’s biggest humanitarian crises. It is vital that all donors not only fully deliver on their pledges to date, but step up with the new funding needed for 2017.

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