Prime Minister Sipilä will participate in the Supporting Syria and the Region Conference in London on 4 February together with over 30 other Heads of State or Government. The Conference is being hosted by the Heads of Government of the UK, Germany, Kuwait, Norway, and the UN Secretary General.
Finland will respond to the needs in Syria and its neighbouring countries by pledging EUR 25 million for 2016. The resources will be channelled from the Foreign Ministry's budget. The sum is considerably larger than last year's pledge of EUR 15 million. In the end, Finland's support to the victims of the conflict in Syria rose to EUR 34 million in 2015.
Following the pledge made in London, Finland's support to the victims of the Syria conflict since 2011 will total approximately EUR 107 million.
-It is important to help people where they are, so that they have hope for the future and do not need to leave their homes to embark, for instance to Europe, on a journey that might prove to be very dangerous, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä says.
In the Conference in London, the EU aims to double its pledge on last year, raising it to EUR 2.2 billion.
Finnish support through humanitarian and development organisations
Finland's London pledge consists of EUR 15 million in humanitarian aid and EUR 10 million in development cooperation.
The plan is to channel the humanitarian aid primarily via the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Red Cross and Finnish civil society organisations.
-Finland is responding to the long-term effects of the crisis in Syria and its neighbouring countries through development cooperation activities. Children's access to school and women's rights and employment are being supported. Funds are also being directed to the recovery of business activities and the reconstruction of hospitals and power stations, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä says.
In addition, Finland will continue to allocate a substantial amount to civil society actors' efforts to create the preconditions for peace. ICT and innovations will form a new area for funding.
-Finnish companies and NGOs have special expertise and technology that can contribute considerably to improvements in, for example, the education sector, Prime Minister Sipilä notes.
Syria conflict has led to a humanitarian crisis
In the course of nearly five years, the conflict in Syria has evolved from an uprising into a regional proxy war between different vested interests comprising strong superpower interests. At the same time, it has escalated into the biggest humanitarian catastrophe of our time. According to the UN, inside Syria about 7 million people have fled from their homes and about 13 million people are in need of assistance. Syria's neighbouring countries, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, have registered 4.5 million refugees. The deteriorating conditions in Syria and its neighbouring countries has contributed to the growth in migration to Europe. For this reason, too, a substantial increase in funding is imperative.
The London Conference has three goals: firstly, to raise new funding for the current year and up till 2020; secondly, to exert influence so that all children have access to school and to create job opportunities and businesses. Thirdly, the Conference aims to send a strong message about the protection of civilians, putting pressure on ending operations targeted at civilians and safeguarding assistance organisations' work. An important goal is to make Syria more stable and to create preconditions for reconstruction.
Inquiries: Anna-Kaisa Heikkinen, Special Adviser (International Affairs), tel. +358 40 748 3867, Prime Minister’s Office and Claus Jerker Lindroos, Unit for Humanitarian Assistance and Policy, tel. +358 40 132 1416, and Jussi Nummelin, Desk Officer responsible for support to Syria, tel. +358 50 430 2018, Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Further information on media arrangements: Anne Sjöholm, Head of Communications for EU Affairs, tel. +358 40 537 0733, Prime Minister’s Office.