Substantial new aid package for refugees in Syrian region

The government is setting aside an additional amount of over €45 million for aid to refugees in the Syrian region. This was announced today by the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Lilianne Ploumen, in a letter to the House of Representatives. ‘The conditions in many locations are simply wretched. The images of starving children in Madaya are etched into our minds. However, we should remember that people are also struggling to survive in terrible conditions elsewhere, for example in neighbouring countries to which almost five million Syrians have fled,’ said the minister.

The minister is making a total of €127 million available this year for what are referred to as chronic crises, which have been ongoing for a number of years. Apart from the Syrian region, a considerable amount of aid is given to people in need in countries like Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan and the Central African Republic (see overview below). ‘The crises around the world have resulted in the heartbreaking figure of over 60 million refugees and displaced persons,’ said Ms Ploumen. ‘The only way these people could see to save their lives was to flee from war and disaster. We cannot allow them to suffer even more by failing to provide them with sufficient aid. However, we can only succeed if other countries contribute their fair share,’ the minister continued.

The €45.4 million in aid for Syrian refugees is in addition to the amount of over €4 million that the minister provided last week via the Red Cross. In total, the government has given over €291 million in humanitarian aid since war broke out in Syria in 2012. ‘It is important for the support to go beyond blankets, foods and tents. People in refugee camps need prospects, such as education for their children and a job. Otherwise, they will continue to board flimsy boats, often with tragic consequences,’ remarked Ms Ploumen. In addition, the minister pointed out that the neighbouring countries which have taken in the refugees need more support. As a result of the mass influx of refugees, facilities for the local people are under severe pressure.

Ms Ploumen also stressed the importance of the safety of girls and young women who have fled their homes. ‘We are seeing an increasing number of alarming reports of violence, including sexual violence, against these women. This is horrendous. Aid organisations and bodies must take a tougher stance in order to tackle this problem. However, other parties, such as civil-society and religious leaders, need to convey the message that men should keep their hands off women,’ she said. As a major donor of humanitarian aid, the Netherlands will use its influence to achieve this.

Syrian region

45.4 million

Iraq

7.4 million

Afghanistan

6.0 million

Yemen

10.5 million

South Sudan

17.0 million

CAR

10.3 million

Somalia

1.0 million

Horn of Africa

4.1 million

Nigeria

5.6 million

Great Lakes

2.9 million

Sudan

6.0 million

DRC

6.0 million

Ukraine

3.0 million

Start fund

2.0 million

Total

127.2 million