Government decides on new development cooperation strategy for Syrian crisis

Thursday 26 February the Government took a decision on the direction of new development cooperation strategies for the Syrian crisis, and for the Middle East and North Africa region. The strategy for the Syrian crisis will be unique in that it will also include Syria’s neighbours that have been severely affected by the war.

“The conflict in Syria continues to deteriorate and may persist for many years to come. There is substantial risk that the conflict will spread. Consequently, we need a long-term strategy on how Sweden can best help alleviate the suffering caused by the war, how we can support democratic forces and mitigate the impact on neighbouring countries,” says Minister for International Development Cooperation Isabella Lövin.

The strategy is intended to fill the gap between acute humanitarian assistance and long-term aid that targets schools, health care and democracy development.

“We must focus our efforts to ensure that people do not get caught in a vacuum. There is an impending risk that otherwise we will see a lost generation that is not given the chance to go to school or work. Not only would this be a disaster for the individual, it would make the future reconstruction of Syria more difficult,” says Ms Lövin.

The conflict has already resulted in the worst humanitarian disaster in modern times, and geographically adjacent countries have been subjected to great strain. Almost four million people from Syria have fled to neighbouring countries, while another eight million people have been displaced within Syria. Women’s rights are a priority, as is support to basic public services such as education, health care and sanitation.

The Syrian strategy supplements the regional development cooperation strategy for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), which will also be renewed. The MENA strategy will focus on human rights and democracy, cross-border water issues and increased economic integration in the region – an area in which there is great potential. The strategies are also to include a climate and environmental perspective.

The Syrian strategy will involve between SEK 1.5 billion and SEK 1.7 billion in 2016–2020, while the MENA strategy will involve SEK 1.5 billion to SEK 2 billion during the same period.

Following this decision, which establishes the framework of the strategies, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency will be instructed to produce background material by 1 September that will form the basis of the Government’s final wording of the strategies.