15-03-2012

Humanitarian Aid: PAM always present through its parliamentary network in the Mediterranean

Humanitarian Aid: PAM always present through its parliamentary network in the Mediterranean
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean was among the Regional Organisations invited to participate at the Syria Humanitarian Forum held in Geneva on 8 March 2012, under the auspices of the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC). PAM addressed the Forum and offered its full support, through its regional parliamentary network, in assisting the humanitarian efforts and political dialogue in Syria.
PAM has already closely collaborated with the UN System on the occasion of the crisis in Libya during 2011 and was also engaged in keeping an open channel of communication and dialogue between international organizations and authorities in Tunisia and Egypt during the Arab spring movement.
‘The wellbeing of the citizens of the Member States is the major priority for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, and this is true even more so in those dramatic situations as we have experienced in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and now also in Syria’, said PAM President, Sen. Dr. Fayez Al-Tarawneh.
 
Note: The following is the full Statement of the Chair at the conclusion of the Syria Humanitarian Forum


 
SYRIA HUMANITARIAN FORUM
Geneva, 8 March 2012
 
STATEMENT OF THE CHAIR
 
 
1.                  The Syria Humanitarian Forum met for the first time in Geneva on Thursday, 8 March 2012. The Forum was convened under the auspices of the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), chaired by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and co-facilitated by the League of Arab States (LAS), the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the European Commission Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid (ECHO).
 
2.                  The Forum created a space for Member States, Regional Organizations, UN agencies and international and non-governmental organizations to engage in an open and inclusive dialogue on the humanitarian situation in Syria, as well as to discuss how to ensure that the humanitarian response is coordinated, rapid and effective.
 
3.                  The Forum was briefed on next steps in the response, including stockpiling and pre-positioning of supplies. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) briefed the Forum on the regional refugee dimension and highlighted that the Government of Syria has for many decades hosted one of the largest refugee populations in the world.
 
4.                  Appreciation was expressed for the engagement of the representative of the Government of Syria in the Forum.
 
5.                  Throughout the Forum, many participants expressed appreciation for the work being undertaken by humanitarian organisations on the ground in Syria, particularly the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC).
 
6.                  During the Forum, participants identified the following as critical components of the humanitarian response in Syria moving forward:
 
Protection
 
7.                  Participants expressed serious concern regarding the plight of civilians in Syria and emphasised the urgent need for all parties to respect humanitarian principles and international law. Particular concern was expressed regarding the plight of children and other vulnerable groups.
 
Humanitarian Access and Humanitarian Principles
 
8.                  Many participants stressed the urgency of agreeing upon an access framework. They urged the Government and other parties to grant immediate, full and unimpeded access for the delivery of humanitarian aid, evacuation of the wounded, and conduct of assessments, including through the implementation of a two-hour daily pause in fighting, as requested by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
 
9.                  Some participants highlighted the need for any humanitarian action to be implemented in accordance with international humanitarian principles (humanity, neutrality, impartiality, independence) and in coordination with the Syrian Government, further to General Assembly resolution 46/182. They also emphasised the need to maintain a clear distinction between the ongoing political dialogue and the humanitarian response. A number said that any further militarisation of the situation (such as enforced humanitarian corridors) would be counter-productive and would jeopardise the delivery of humanitarian aid.
 
Humanitarian Response and Coordination
 
10.              Many participants reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen coordination between Member States, regional organisations, UN agencies and international and non-governmental organizations in order to conduct independent needs assessments, develop a joint programmatic vision and interventions, and enhance accountability to beneficiaries.
 
11.              Participants recognised that the humanitarian response in Syria will be most effective if undertaken in a coordinated and cohesive manner. To this end, they welcomed the overall leadership of the ERC, Valerie Amos, and commended her rapid deployment of a United Nations Regional Humanitarian Coordinator. They also expressed appreciation for the support provided by neighbouring countries, particularly Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, to those fleeing the violence, as well as for UNHCR’s leadership role in the regional refugee response.
 
12.              Many participants expressed views that the Syrian authorities should recognize the unsustainable burden placed on the SARC by the situation, and the consequent need for expansion of humanitarian capacity. To this end, many participants encouraged the authorities to engage bilaterally with, and facilitate the work of, NGOs, INGOs, Regional Organisations and UN agencies operating in Syria, in accordance with international norms and practice.
 
13.              Many participants highlighted the need to support humanitarian partners in neighbouring countries to scale-up preparedness activities.
 
14.              It was highlighted by some that, in middle income countries such as Syria, local partners and communities are the first responders. The humanitarian response should therefore include components focused on working with national NGOs and CBOs, as well as linking relief, recovery and development. The response should also prioritise the restoration of basic social services, including education and health, and take into consideration the impact of the unrest on food security and agriculture. Maintaining supply chains for food, medicines and other basic commodities was highlighted as a priority.
 
Funding Mechanisms
 
15.              Participants discussed mechanisms through which funds can be contributed to the response in Syria, including welcoming the establishment of a Syria Emergency Response Fund (ERF) and appreciating the allocations already made through the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).
 
16.              Many participants noted that obtaining accurate information on the situation is essential and called on the Government to facilitate access for rapid humanitarian needs assessments.
 
17.              Many participants also emphasized the importance of regional level consolidation of funding proposals to ensure coherence and consistency across the region and welcomed the appointment of the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator in this regard.
 
Next Steps
 
18.              Participants expressed views that the protection of civilians, humanitarian access, humanitarian capacity on the ground and funding are the four most critical enablers of an effective humanitarian response to the situation in Syria.
 
19.              Many participants noted the absolute urgency of moving from words to action to increase the scale and scope of the humanitarian response in Syria. To this end, they committed to monitoring a number of indicators, including humanitarian access and the delivery of food, medicine and other essential items, in order to assess improvements over the coming period.
 
20.              Participants expressed views that the outcome of the Emergency Relief Coordinator’s ongoing mission to Syria would be critical and urged all parties to seize the opportunity presented.
 
21.              Many participants highlighted the critical importance of bolstering the coordination of the humanitarian response, bringing together Member States, Regional Organizations, UN agencies and international and non-governmental organizations.
 
22.              Many participants recognized the value of convening such an inclusive Forum to share information and develop a common approach to the humanitarian response. To this end, the Chair and co-facilitators agreed to convene a follow-up meeting of the Forum in the coming weeks in the region to take stock of the situation and developments in the response.
 
23.              In the meantime, weekly information-sharing meetings will take place at the working level in both Cairo and Geneva.
 
 
 
New York/Geneva, 15 March 2012
 
 
 
MEDIA INFORMATION: 13/2012
ISSUED ON: 16.03.2012
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