Discussion on Syria’s Humanitarian Crisis with Anne C. Richard
On January 22, the Brussels office of the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) hosted a conversation on the “Syria’s Humanitarian Crisis” with Anne C. Richard, United States assistant secretary of state of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) and Astrid Ziebarth, director of GMF’s Immigration and Integration Program. The context provided the recent UN appeal in December for a record $6.5 billion to address humanitarian needs in Syria and surrounding countries in 2014 as well as the just opened peace talks on Syria that began in Montreux, Switzerland.
The discussion focused on PRM’s mandate to deliver humanitarian assistance to displaced persons. With the destruction and on-going war as well as the high number of refugees and displaced people - over 2.5 million Syrians are estimated to be located in hard-to-reach areas and over 250,000 are located in besieged areas – it is incredibly difficult to reach Syrians in need. Another major concern addressed by the speakers was how to bring more donors to the table especially non-traditional donors such as China to also attempt to stop the bloodshed and further facilitate diplomatic solutions. Among other issues, the burden of neighboring countries experiencing a large influx of refugees, the slow willingness of European countries to rake in Syrian refugees for temporary settlement, the role Russia and the Syrian government will play at the conference in Geneva as well as how to properly acknowledge the concerns of the Alawite and Christian minority groups in a post-Assad era where discussed. Participants included European officials, regional and migration experts, and representatives from humanitarian and relief organizations.