Rosenthal: more support for opposition and civilian population in Syria
Foreign affairs minister Uri Rosenthal today pledged support for the opposition and the civilian population in Syria. He was speaking from Istanbul where he had met with Abdulbaset Sieda, head of the Syrian National Council, Syria’s main opposition group, and his predecessor Bourhan Ghalioun, among others.
During these talks the Minister pledged €4 million of humanitarian aid from the development cooperation budget.
‘Over 100,000 Syrians have fled to neighbouring countries and there is a lack of food and medication in Syria,’ the Minister said.
Mr Rosenthal discussed with the opposition leaders the support that the Netherlands can provide. It includes communication equipment (e.g. to help coordinate medical aid), training of human rights defenders, unrestricted internet access in Syria, documentation of human rights violations, and post-conflict training. The Minister also urged the opposition to continue efforts to grow and unite.
‘The humanitarian situation in Syria is worrying. Over 1 million Syrians are urgently in need of help,’ Mr Rosenthal said. ‘There is a shortage of food and medical supplies, and food prices have risen by 50% on average. Opposition members have asked me for help.’
Aid providers have recently had difficulty getting into the country, but after lengthy negotiations the UN has obtained permission to provide limited assistance in Syria through the Red Cross. ‘Funding is needed for this, so I’ve decided to make €1 million available for food aid in Syria,’ said the Minister.
‘I will be providing €3 million to improve the reception of Syrian refugees in Jordan. Of the 100,000 or more refugees outside Syria, only 24,000 have been registered in Jordan, and thousands of Syrians still need help.’ Mr Rosenthal visited Jordan himself last week.
Rosenthal remains concerned by developments in Syria. ‘Violent military operations are now taking place throughout the country, and I hold the Syrian regime responsible. The violence must stop and Assad must go. A political solution must be found. Meanwhile the Netherlands will continue to press within the EU for sanctions to be tightened up.’