The Secretary-General's Press Conference at Closing of the Second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference on Syria
Kuwait City , 15 January 2014
This Second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference has just concluded by raising more than $2.4 billion for the Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan and the Refugee Response Plan over the next six months. The exact figure will be announced shortly
I express my heartfelt gratitude to His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Emir of Kuwait. He has shown enormous generosity, leading the way with an inspiring contribution of $500 million. I applaud his leadership.
I am also grateful to the many officials representing countries, international and non-governmental organizations and humanitarian agencies. Their presence here shows a true spirit of global citizenship.
The conflict in Syria is devastating communities across the country. It is spreading instability across the region. It requires action from leaders across the globe.
I am pleased that the world has spoken here in Kuwait City. We have said loudly and clearly to the Syrian people: You are not forgotten. And we have said loudly and clearly to the neighbouring countries: You will not shoulder the burden alone.
The United Nations will make the best use of the resources that we receive to provide food, water, shelter, emergency treatment and other supplies and services to millions of people in need.
We will focus attention on the needs of women. We will help fund the No Lost Generation initiative, which will help Syrian children to reclaim their childhood. And we will promote livelihoods for refugees so that they can work productively.
The people of Syria long for peace.
This is the message I heard from Syrian refugees I have met in neighbouring countries. Yesterday, I went to the Kawrgosik camp in the Kurdistan Governorate of Iraq. I spoke to a fourteen-year old girl named Bahia. Like so many others, she lives in a tent with her family. She goes to UNICEF-supported classes. She is eager to learn but she has to cope with so much fear and uncertainty.
I told her not to lose hope.
We have to do everything possible to address the humanitarian, disarmament and political dimensions of the conflict.
Today we achieved great progress on funding the relief effort.
The Joint OPCW-UN team is operating on a tight timeline to rid Syria of its chemical weapons.
Next week, in Geneva, we will convene the International Conference on Syria to press the parties to begin the political process, establish a transitional governing body and stop the violence.
The international community has responded generously at this pledging conference. Now I call on all concerned to step up efforts to bring the parties together.
Finally I would like to thank you again for all of your cooperation and most importantly the Government and people of Kuwait and the leadership of His Highness the Emir and His Excellency the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Kuwait. Kuwait has become a global humanitarian centre. I really appreciate this and I urge all of us to work together with the United Nations to make this world better for all, including the Syrian people.
Q: [in Arabic, asking for the Secretary-General’s comment on the result of the pledging conference]
SG: For your second part of the question, we are very much grateful for the generous contributions and humanitarian contributions from many donor countries. More than 2.4 billion -- even though we don’t have the exact figure at this time -- is an increase of almost one billion dollars compared with last year. This reflects that the crisis and needs of the situation have increased. When we had the Conference here last year, there were 4 million people who were affected and there were 70,000 refugees. Now we have more than 3 million refugees in five neighbouring countries and almost half of the population of the Syrian people have been affected, including 6.5 million people who are displaced internally within Syria. This has created a humanitarian crisis. We have to help them. So many people are dying and they desperately need basic humanitarian necessities. Most of the basic infrastructure has been damaged and 40% per cent of hospitals are not functioning properly. It is only natural that the international community should send [its] warm helping hand. Of course we may have to continue to expect more help from the international community. We have announced that we need at least $6.5 billion for this year. I hope this money will be used for the first half or around that time. We will continue to appeal to Member States of the United Nations for their generous support. At the same time, what is more important is that we must put an end to this violence through political dialogue, political negotiations. That is what we are going to begin next week. Thank you.
Q: My question is to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. What do you expect what the role of the media can do to help the UN and the governments raise funding? What ask the UN, the governments but the media can play a role, What do you expect the media to do?
SG: That is a very important question. I really appreciate that you raise the role of the media. We are very grateful that many journalists have gone to Syria or neighbouring countries trying to send out the exact messages, what is exactly happening on the ground. Without the help of the media, we would not be able to see such a disastrous tragedy happening to the Syrian people. Many journalists were victims in the course of all these very dangerous circumstances and they were killed and they risked all these dangers. They have been connecting the world, between Syria and the world so that the world could react and respond, first of all politically and in a humanitarian way and also by working to protect human rights. I really appreciate it. I expect media will play a greater role so that people will have more awareness on this very, very dire situation. I really appreciate your role.
Q: Sir, we understand that yesterday you spoke with the Iranian delegation. I wonder if you could you first of all comment on the importance of their role here. And what are your thoughts on the likelihood of their participation in Geneva II next week. And secondly, if I could, I would also like to know your thoughts on how likely you think that the money that was pledged today is actually going to be delivered. Last year, 70% approximately of the money was actually delivered. Are you hopeful that this year you will get 100% of what has been pledged?
SG: About the participation of Iran, we believe that the Iranians’ participation is very important. However, unfortunately as of this moment, we have not been able to finalize whether Iran should be participating or not. I have been very closely coordinating and consulting with the initiating parties -- that is Russia and the United States. There are still some differences of opinion on the exact role and reason of their participation. Iran is a very important regional country. Even when there will be an agreement to establish a transitional governing body with full executive powers, then we will have to get support and cooperation from the Iranian Government. For that, I will continue to discuss this matter. The invitations have already been sent. At this time, I would like to urge opposition forces, the Syrian National Coalition, to come with a coherent and unified delegation. We have not yet received firm confirmation from them. We do not have much time left. We have exactly one week left. The second part of your question -- you should understand there is a certain gap between the pledges and the exact disbursement of funding. Even if there is some gap between the money pledged and delivering humanitarian assistance, 70 per cent or 80 percent of funding disbursement of contributions is not too bad. I think it is quite a good one, an encouraging one, considering all these current situations. I would expect that whatever has been pledged today would be remitted as soon as possible so that the United Nations, humanitarian agencies and other agencies will be able to plan for the most effective and timely delivery of humanitarian assistance. For any detailed matters, I think I would like to ask Under-Secretary-General Valerie Amos to [answer].