International leaders will gather in Brussels tomorrow for the third Syria pledging conference to reaffirm the political and financial support for people affected by the conflict.
Ahead of the conference hosted by the European Union and the United Nations, Sarah Adamczyk, research fellow at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), has warned discussions around rebuilding infrastructure and homes in Syria are once again absent from the agenda.
She said: ‘Reconstruction in Syria has never been mentioned on the agenda of the two previous conferences. While the official position of Western donors has been that reconstruction must be conditional on a UN-led political solution to the conflict, the prospect of this happening looks increasingly uncertain.
‘With the vast majority of territory now reclaimed by the Syrian government, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimating that up to 250,000 refugees could return to Syria this year, the refusal of Western governments to discuss reconstruction is no longer tenable.
'Inside Syria, humanitarian organisations are already carrying out similar initiatives. It is imperative that broader discussions regarding housing, land and property rights for displaced Syrians must be high on the agenda. Failure to prepare for reconstruction needs at this stage may risk allowing the Assad government to change facts on the ground in ways in which could lead to large-scale expropriation of property and create further barriers for refugee returns.’
Ms Adamczyk will be available for interviews ahead and during the conference.
ODI experts working on the Syria refugee crisis are also available to comment on the challenges facing Syrians living in neighbouring countries, including:
- The need to provide more funding for access to quality education
- The need for greater support to Syrian refugee women and girls
- The need to provide work opportunities in host countries
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Brenda Yu (senior communications officer) - [email protected]
James Rush (senior media officer) – [email protected] / +44 (0)7808 791265