Supporting Syria and the Region conference


Secretary-General Ban,
Emir Al-Sabah,Your Majesty King Abdullah,
Prime Minister DavutoÄŸlu,
Prime Minister Salam,
Erna Solberg,
David Cameron,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Allow me also to thank David Cameron and the British Government for their hospitality here in London.

Ladies and gentlemen, the film that we saw at the beginning serves as another striking reminder to us of the tragedy that is unfolding in Syria. The film’s final words, “We must act now”, are nothing less than a urgent appeal, an appeal that we intend to respond to at this conference today. There is really no more time to lose.

Three hundred thousand people have already lost their lives and millions have been uprooted. This catastrophe must end. As the Secretary-General of the United Nations has already said, we need a political process. I would therefore like to offer my sincere thanks to Ban Ki-moon and Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura, as well as to all of the other negotiators for their work to promote a political process.

We must also send a clear signal today that this current period of reflection must be used in order to improve the humanitarian situation in Syria, including a cease-fire ‑ this is what the people expect – in order to actually drive the political process forward. All actors share responsibility for this – but above all the Assad regime, of course.

Today, the priority is to ease suffering and to offer prospects for the people seeking refuge in Syria and neighbouring countries. This should be a day of hope for these people. I would like, first of all, to express my sincere thanks for the willingness shown by countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to offer refugees shelter. They need our support.

As regards the most essential aid ‑ daily food rations ‑ we saw in the past year how cutbacks were made that were unbearable and how this forced people to flee. This is why the Federal Government is pledging a total of one billion euros to the humanitarian aid programmes of the United Nations for 2016. We would like to contribute 570 million euros of this sum to the World Food Programme ‑ this is approximately 50 per cent of the funds that the World Food Programme needs for these three countries this year ‑ so that we will hopefully be able, at the end of today, to say that we no longer have to worry about food rations.

We want to do more, of course. We want to provide food, clothes, accommodation and employment. This is why we are also supporting the Partnership for Prospects programme. Examples of projects in the context of this programme include community centres, schools and hospitals that are built by the refugees themselves, thereby helping them to find gainful employment. In 2016, Germany will contribute 200 million euros to this programme, thereby taking our support for this year to 1.2 billion euros.

Another aim behind this is to establish a measure of security for the coming years, of course. This is why we will be making a further 1.1 billion euros available in 2017 and 2018, which will bring Germany’s contribution to a total of 2.3 billion euros. I am also most delighted that the European Union has gone that extra mile by agreeing to make a total of three billion euros available to Turkey for projects to help refugees.

I would like to mention a further aspect that we intend to get under way, namely partnerships between municipalities. We will set up an Internet-based communication platform for this and encourage the Länder and cities of Germany to enter into partnerships with cities in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey in order to offer them their help. Perhaps you could also promote this initiative in your countries. Moreover, we will also offer 1,900 higher education scholarships for Syrian refugees so that they can further their training.

Ladies and gentlemen, if we all work together and if we all do our part, then this can be a day of hope today ‑ hope for people who have experienced, and unfortunately continue to experience, so many terrible things. While this day will not replace the political process, it can offer a measure of humanity and hope. I hope that we will achieve this much. Thank you.