Helen Clark: Speech at the Supporting Syrians and the Region Event -- Humanitarian Priorities Briefing and Launch of the Regional Refugee & Resilience Plan 2017-2018 (3RP)

Jan 24, 2017

Despite significant challenges, particularly around security, UNDP’s Syria Country Office activities in 2016 impacted more than 2.2 million people directly and indirectly. Credits @UNDP

At the outset, let me thank the Government of Finland for hosting this meeting and for Finland’s support for those impacted by the protracted crisis in Syria and the neighbourhood.

We have heard from Stephen O’Brien and Filippo Grandi how humanitarian priorities are being addressed inside Syria and beyond. Our three organisations continue to provide leadership and co-ordination on the response plans. These plans engage a wide range of humanitarian and development partners, and more than 300 partners are active in the field.

Within Syria itself, UNDP continues to support the resilience of internally displaced people and their host communities. The goal is to assist the most affected to weather the ongoing crisis, and to be in a position to contribute to future recovery. People need to survive and to benefit from activities which complement and go beyond humanitarian support. Above all, they need hope.

Despite significant challenges, particularly around security, UNDP’s Syria Country Office activities in 2016 impacted more than 2.2 million people directly and indirectly. More than 18,000 jobs were created and access to basic services was improved for more than two million people.

UNDP is now beginning to explore how to engage in new areas of work which could support the implementation of an eventual peace agreement, such as making communities safe, reconciliation, and the rule of law.

UNDP and partners are also supporting the resilience of Syrian refugees and host communities in countries neighboring Syria, within the framework of the 3RP.

In 2013, we supported the development of national plans in the five countries most affected by the spill-over impacts of the Syria crisis. With the establishment of the integrated 3RP, we were able to work with governments in the region to set up a single institutional framework under national leadership which could improve the planning of humanitarian and development responses.

Within this framework, UNDP programming has focused on supporting national structures to address needs, particularly at the local level.

For example, in 2016:

In Lebanon, thanks to growing donor support, UNDP supported both an increase and an improvement in the delivery of basic services at the community level. This work covered 126 vulnerable municipalities, and benefited more than 800,000 Lebanese and more than 323,000 Syrians. Those supported through job creation and micro-small-medium enterprise development included women and youth, with more than 28,000 Lebanese and Syrians benefiting.

In Jordan, UNDP and partners have supported fifteen municipalities affected by the Syrian crisis with programming to strengthen municipal services like landfills, livelihood creation, installation of solar panels for electricity, and the rehabilitation of public buildings and spaces. More than 1,500 people have accessed emergency jobs, and more than half of these have now been able to establish their own microbusinesses with our support.

International responses to a protracted crisis like that in Syria require a balance of funding between humanitarian and resilience activities. The resilience component of the 3RP has increased from 28 per cent of the overall request in 2015 to 41 per cent in 2017. This represents a significant shift towards finding durable solutions.

Yet despite the emphasis on resilience in the 3RP, that component of the Plan was critically under-funded. Just 32 per cent of the requested US$1.6 billion was provided.

Alongside the establishment of the 3RP, we have been advocating for multi-year funding as the most effective way to plan for and implement durable solutions and form lasting partnerships. Since then, Jordan and Lebanon have successfully adopted multi-year programming cycles, allowing for more sustained engagement with donors through a wide range of new funding modalities. Now seventeen donors are supporting multi-year funding, and thirteen of them have already confirmed their contributions for 2017.

More must be done to support the resilience of those living inside Syria and in the neighboring countries. Livelihoods must remain a key priority of the 3RP’s resilience component. UNDP and 3RP partners welcomed the agreement at the London conference to create 1.1 million jobs for Syrians and host communities by 2018. That will be a challenge, but we must all strive to meet it.

This year, 3RP partners are asking for US$2.1 billion for resilience work. UNDP joins other 3RP partners, the Governments of the region, and its UN sister agencies in calling for both higher pledges and faster disbursement of monies pledged.

Investing in durable solutions creates hope for refugees, internally displaced persons, and host communities. Evidence gathered in the recent multi-country economic opportunities assessment conducted by UNDP, in close partnership with WFP and ILO, confirms that. This assessment now provides a basis for further consultations and policy development, with the aim of ensuring that resilience programming continues to be evidence-based and robust.

This important work would not be possible without the continued support of partners. Thank you for your support for building resilience for Syrians and for citizens of neighboring countries impacted by the crisis.

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