UN-Kuwait High Level Pledging Conference on Syria

Justine Greening pledges an additional £100 million for the Syria crisis.

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The Rt Hon Justine Greening MP

Your Highness, Secretary-General,

I want to start by thanking Kuwait and the UN for hosting us here today, and for their leadership on Syria.

At last year’s conference, I announced funding that the British Government would pledge to alleviate suffering caused by the Syrian crisis. Since then the situation has continued to deteriorate, and the UK has continued to pledge further funds.

In 2013 we saw some grim milestones – 2 million refugees, 1 million child refugees. Half of the Syrian population - over 11 million people – are now in need. These are bleak statistics and behind the numbers are tales of unimaginable suffering.

Yesterday in the Bekaa Valley I met Syrian refugees who have fled to Lebanon and heard terrible stories from people who have lost everything - their homes, their livelihoods, their loved ones. Whatever they started with, now they have little, if anything.

In spite of the Security Council Presidential Statement of 2 October 2013, hundreds of civilians, including women and children, have been killed and maimed in barrel bomb attacks undertaken by the Syrian Air Force on Aleppo and other cities. There are towns and cities besieged by regime and opposition forces, stopping vital humanitarian support getting through. I condemn that and deplore that. There can be no excuses.

And I call on all sides to allow humanitarian agencies to reach all those in need, including those in hard to reach or besieged areas.

Your Highness, Secretary-General,

The international community can and must do more to save lives in Syria, more to prevent what could be a lost generation of Syrian children, whose whole lives are blighted by this conflict. We must do more to ensure that humanitarian workers are able to do their jobs by accessing those in need on a regular and predictable basis, without fear of violence being used against them.

And we also need to do more to support Syria’s neighbours like Lebanon, like Jordan, who have been hugely generous keeping their borders open but are finding their own resources stretched as refugee numbers continue to grow.

The UK has already pledged £500 million (c$784m) since the crisis began. It is our largest ever single response to a humanitarian crisis. Today we pledge a further £100 million, or US $164 million - double that of last year’s conference - as a measure of our unwavering support for the UN appeals.

We cannot doubt that this is one of the worst human catastrophes in our time, and the world must not close its eyes to the suffering.

This conference is an important moment. We need every country to do whatever it can to live up to promises made, so we can give the Syrian people the hope of a future in their time of desperate need.

Thank you.

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Published 20 January 2014