The crisis in Syria is high on the agenda for me and my Department. My colleague Ciarán Cannon T.D., Minister for State for the Diaspora and International Development, led Ireland’s delegation to the Second Brussels Conference for Syria and the region on 24-25 April. At that conference, Ireland reaffirmed its support for the UN-led efforts to bring about a resolution of the conflict and called on the international community, particularly those with influence on the parties to the conflict, to redouble efforts to ensure a ceasefire and unimpeded humanitarian access. Ireland condemned the repeated breaches of international law which have taken place in Syria, and called for full legal accountability for all war crimes and crimes against humanity, particularly the use of chemical weapons.
At the Brussels conference, Ireland also pledged €25 million in humanitarian support for 2018 - maintaining the same level of assistance as provided last year. This brings Ireland’s support since 2012 to over €109 million – our largest ever response to a single crisis. Given the urgency of humanitarian needs inside Syria and across the region, over €16 million of this funding has already been disbursed so far this year.
In recognition of the need for more effective, longer-term responses for all those affected by the crisis – including displaced Syrians and host communities in the neighbouring region – Ireland also made a commitment to provide multi-annual, predictable assistance in response to the Syria crisis beyond 2018.
Through its annual contributions to EU Institutions, Ireland also supports the EU’s humanitarian response in Syria. The EU and its member states are the single largest donor to the Syria crisis, having mobilised over €10.6 billion in humanitarian, stabilisation and resilience assistance since 2012. At the recent Brussels II Conference for Syria and the Region the EU and its Member States contributed €4.8 billion out of the €6.2 billion pledged until 2020, which corresponds to some 77% of all funds pledged during the Conference.
Ultimately, the human suffering resulting from the Syrian conflict can only be brought to an end by reaching a sustainable political solution. I discussed the situation in Syria with my EU counterparts at the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) in February, March and April. At the FAC in April, we condemned in the strongest terms the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and stressed the need to ensure full legal accountability for those responsible for such crimes. I reaffirmed the need to avoid any escalation of the situation in Syria, and the importance of ensuring accountability for the use of chemical weapons. We reaffirmed the need to reinvigorate the UN-led Geneva peace talks, to which the he EU provides direct assistance.