Brussels Conference on Syria: Displaced Syrians must not be forgotten by international donors and diplomatic community

Published 27. May 2024
International donors meeting in Brussels today must pledge both diplomatic and financial support to help Syrians in their struggle for survival, and who are at risk of becoming forgotten by the international community, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has said.

The Brussels Conference comes as humanitarian aid for the Syria response hits dangerously low levels, with available funding only covering a fraction of the total amount required.

“We are in Brussels to appeal to the international community to leverage their financial and diplomatic weight to support Syrians longing for a better future,” said Angelita Caredda, the Norwegian Refugee Council's Middle East and North Africa Regional Director. “Today’s outcome will be the difference between children going to school or having to work, between Syrians securing their minimal food needs or going hungry.

“In the absence of long-term solutions, millions of Syrians remain in limbo. Diplomacy has to work to resolve long-standing hurdles for displaced Syrians struggling with economic hardship, absence of basic services and lack of protection.”

Maram, a nine-year-old student in northern Syria, said, “It broke me to see my friends be able to go to school and not be able to. The closest official school was way too far from our home and my parents did not have enough money to send me. Even if they did have money, the roads are too dangerous for me. I just want to be a teacher when I grow up, I want to help other children learn and grow.”

Millions of Syrian children risk being condemned to a lifetime of aid-dependence if support for critical programmes is not scaled up. Syrians at home and across neighbouring countries continue to grapple with inflation and soaring living costs against lack of jobs and services. Food insecurity has become a particularly worrying risk for 12.9 million people in Syria after the UN was forced to reduce food aid.

In Jordan, shrinking international humanitarian funding threatens people’s access to food and vital assistance in camps, where refugees receive less than one dollar a day in food aid.

In Lebanon, restrictive measures, including curfews, evictions and deportations, have added to a hostile environment fuelled by public and official anti-refugee rhetoric. Refugees have told NRC that they no longer leave home for fear of attacks.

Maha, a single mother displaced in Beirut, said, “My children wonder why they cannot carry their bags and go to schools like other children. They ask if it's because we are Syrian. They say, ’What have we done wrong?’. Our options seem bleak: either risk crossing the sea and potentially drowning, or hide here, knowing that if we are caught, we will be deported. Going back to Syria is not an option right now.”

NRC calls for donors to step up investment in early recovery to help Syrians rebuild their lives and access basic services. The organisation also calls for Syrians to be afforded their rights and protection in Syria and in displacement in neighbouring refugee hosting countries.

Notes to editors

  • The UN says 12.9 million people in Syria are food insecure, including 3.1 million severely food insecure (WFP).
  • The Syrian Humanitarian Response Plan for 2024, covering neighbouring countries, is only 8.7% funded at $352 million out of 4.07 billion needed (OCHA). In neighbouring countries, only $371 million, or 7.7%, of the $4.49 billion required amount is covered (OCHA).
  • The UN announced reduced cash aid for refugees in Jordan’s camps in summer 2023 (WFP).