Press release 4/2014
10 January 2014
Minister for International Development Pekka Haavisto will travel to neighbouring areas of Syria to get acquainted with the regional impacts of the refugee crisis. He will also participate in the Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria in Kuwait. The Minister will visit Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait and Turkey between 11 and 17 January.
Haavisto will meet political leaders of these countries and representatives of UN agencies in charge of humanitarian aid, and, in Lebanon, he will visit refugees’ informal tented settlements. Now that the Syrian crisis continues for a third winter in a row, one-half of the country's population is already in need of humanitarian assistance. According to the estimates made by the countries concerned, some three million people have fled from Syria to the neighbouring countries, 2.3 million of whom have registered themselves as refugees. This is one of the biggest refugee crises in recent history, and there is no end in sight to it. The UN expects the number of refugees to rise above four million by the end of 2014. One-half of those in distress are children. The need for humanitarian assistance has increased also in the neighbouring countries of Syria, the public services, economies and societies of which have been heavily impacted by the refugee crisis.
The conference convened by the UN Secretary-General in Kuwait on 15 January aims to rally as big pledges of assistance for the victims of the Syrian crisis as possible. Under the auspices of the UN, humanitarian aid organisations are now running a historically large joint appeal, amounting to EUR 4.8 billion, for having assistance delivered to the 16 million people suffering from the crisis both within Syrian borders and in its neighbouring countries.Another purpose of the Minister’s visit is to observe the implementation of humanitarian assistance provided by Finland. Between 2011 and 2013, the humanitarian assistance Finland has provided for Syrian crisis amounted to EUR 20 million, EUR 16.3 million of which was donated in 2013. In addition, in 2013, Finland supported the Syrian Reconstruction Fund and the programmes implemented by UN agencies (UNESCO and UN WOMEN) in the region by approximately EUR 3.5 million. Finland has also provided financial support and expert assistance for the work carried out by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the UN for the destruction of chemical weapons of Syria.
Additional information: Milma Kettunen, Press Attaché to Minister Haavisto, tel. +358 9 1605 6435, +358 40 522 9869; and Helena Tuuri, Head of the Unit for the Middle East and North Africa, tel. +358 50 527 5409. email@example.com