Speech by Minister for Foreign Affairs at the conference "Supporting the future of Syria and the region" in Brussels
Speech by Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström, 5 April 2017.
Check against delivery.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
As we meet here today we are all outraged by yesterday's chemical weapons attack on Idlib. These deplorable acts of violence can never be accepted. Our efforts and commitment to providing humanitarian support remain strong, but we should be clear that in the face of chemical attacks on children our humanitarian efforts will never suffice. We cannot offset or undo gas attacks with humanitarian support. Acts like these are indefensible and stand in outrageous contradiction to the efforts we are gathered here to support and enhance. A political solution as outlined in resolution 2254, including a political transition, remains the only way forward. Sweden fully supports the UN-led talks in Geneva and efforts to ensure the full and effective participation of women at the negotiation table.
Sweden will continue to provide support to the humanitarian operations in Syria and the neighbouring states. Let me tell you briefly what we have done so far. Since 2011, we have provided USD 278 million in humanitarian aid. This is in addition to our unearmarked core budget support to the UN humanitarian organisations and the Central Emergency Response Fund. As a complement to our substantial humanitarian aid we have pledged USD 200 million through our five-year Syria crisis strategy, aimed at building resilience.
The number of Syrians displaced and suffering from the consequences of conflict is increasing and, in addition to our substantial humanitarian aid and resilience support, we have provided protection in Sweden for more than 140 000 asylum seekers from Syria since the beginning of the conflict, which, while not at the same level as the millions hosted by Syria's neighbours, is the highest number per capita outside the region. Today, I can also present an additional USD 35 million in 2017 that will be allocated, and we expect to increase our support further later this year.
We remain concerned about violations of international humanitarian law and human rights. Therefore, Sweden provides support to the International Impartial Investigation Mechanism (IIIM) for the investigation of grave international crimes in Syria as well as the UN's and OPCW's Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM).
Three months after the ceasefire agreement, we are seeing an escalation of violence. More needs to be done by the Astana guarantors to ensure protection of civilians as well as sustained humanitarian access.
We will continue to provide humanitarian aid and support efforts to build resilience. But it must be made clear that the only sustainable way of addressing the needs of vulnerable Syrians is by finding a political solution to the conflict. We owe this to the millions of Syrians who continue to suffer from the consequences of conflict.