Thank you for the floor, and thank you to our hosts the European Union and to the United Nations for organizing this important conference, and for all that they are doing on the ground in Syria.
Colleagues, I confess I am weary at saying the same things to you as I said here almost exactly a year ago, on 5 April 2017.
But my weariness is nothing compared to the weariness of the people of Syria, which I encounter in the daily exercise of my work in the country.
“Help us. Help this fighting to stop. Help us return to lead our normal, decent, dignified lives.”
We were quite moved by Fahra’s message here this morning. There are also a series of video messages that our Red Crescent volunteers recorded in Syria just last week. We in this conference should take good note of them.
They provide extraordinarily eloquent testimony to human decency and resilience in the face of appalling suffering. They call for more help – and they show the results of the help we have given.
Because for all the continued suffering in Syria, the fact is that there are signs of hope in that country.
It’s why the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, in support of our dedicated colleagues from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, along with other member National Societies, and standing proudly alongside our colleagues from the International Committee of the Red Cross, are increasingly providing longer-term recovery support – above all in building health services, giving vocational training, and supporting livelihoods projects.
Today – as last year – we make a passionate plea for your help for the one national humanitarian organization in Syria: the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, or SARC as we all know it, a prominent member of the IFRC.
It’s the Syrian organization through which the vast majority of national and international humanitarian support is channelled. SARC supported no less than 5.5 million Syrians, a quarter of the population, in 2017, including in the last month to people displaced from Eastern Ghouta and Afrin.
SARC is the organization that walks what is called ‘the last mile’ – and what we call ‘the first mile’ – to reach the most vulnerable and remote people. It’s working around the clock to provide life-saving food and non-food relief, health services and emergency evaluations, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene.
Meanwhile one million Syrians received consultations in SARC medical facilities last year, and four in five Syrians benefited from SARC’s water projects.
So what is special about SARC? First and foremost, its volunteers: more than 7000 ordinary Syrians who just want to help other ordinary Syrians, whoever they are and wherever they are.
They do so at real risk of their lives – no less than 65 volunteers and staff have lost their lives since this war began.
We are asking you, our partners, to invest more significantly in strengthening the capacity of those on the ground, especially SARC and the other Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies in the region who – as well – are opening up their hearts and homes to those in need.
We need your help.
Help for recovery work …
Help for restoring the dignity and pride which will put the country back on its feet …