Local and international NGOs working with Syrian refugees in Lebanon met with representatives of Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s economic team, the European Union and the United Nations Wednesday in preparation for the upcoming Brussels II conference for Syria.
The “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region” conference – or Brussels II – will be held in the Belgian capital on April 24-25.
It follows a similar conference in Brussels last year, one in London in 2016 and three in Kuwait between 2013 and 2015.
The conference aims to garner humanitarian support for Syrian refugees and their host communities, as well as bolster support for the U.N.-led political process in Geneva seeking an end to the Syrian conflict, now in its eighth year.
Ahead of the conference, senior adviser to Hariri Nadim Munla was joined by EU Ambassador to Lebanon Christina Lassen and U.N. Deputy Special Coordinator for Lebanon Philippe Lazzarini in the discussion with civil society organizations and NGOs.
“They voiced the problems they are facing and provided some ideas on how to deal with them. They looked at what are the more imminent risks that should be dealt with for next year,” Munla said after the meeting.
A statement from Hariri’s office said that discussions also revolved around “the propositions that will be presented to the conference to help Lebanon cope with the Syrian displacement and the expected international contribution.”
Lebanon hosts the largest number of Syrian refugees per capita.
Just under 1 million Syrian refugees are registered with the United Nations’ refugee agency, UNHCR, in Lebanon, though local officials estimate the real number to be over 1.5 million.
The influx of Syrian refugees has put stress on Lebanon’s already ailing infrastructure and economy.
Munla said the consultation with NGOs and civil society Wednesday looked to incorporate the on-the-ground experience of groups working directly with refugees, as well as “include everyone on the strategy.”
“We said we would incorporate their recommendations. And there will be follow-up meetings with them,” Munla said.
According to Munla, a joint EU, U.N. and Lebanon statement that will be issued next week in Brussels has been finalized.
“We will continue to present the country response plan that was launched a couple of months ago where we estimated that a proper response plan will require funding of about $2.5 billion dollars.”
He added that the expectation is pledges will be comparable to those made last year – around $1.5 billion.
Brussels II follows two other major conferences that have taken place in the past two months and have garnered immense economic and security support for Lebanon from the international community.
The Brussels I conference took place in April 2017 and saw pledges of around $6 billion in funding to support humanitarian, stabilization and development activities in 2017 in Syria and the region, and a further $3.7 billion for 2018-2020.
International financial institutions and donors also announced almost $30 billion in loans, a statement from the EU said.
The EU’s statement Wednesday said: “Like last year’s conference, Brussels II will offer the opportunity to gather the entire international community and review all key aspects of the Syria crisis: humanitarian, economic – that is, pledging – and political.”
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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