Director-General's remarks at Syria Brussels Conference: March 14, 2019 [as prepared for delivery]
Director-General, International Organization for Migration
Syria Brussels Conference
14 March 2019, Brussels, Belgium
A lot has been said today on the incredible complexity of the Syria crisis. This is the first time I attend the Syria pledging conference as the new Director-General of the International Organization for Migration. Let me share with you a few comments:
First, a word of profound gratitude to those local partners who have stayed alongside the Syrian population and continued to deliver assistance to millions for nearly 9 years now. Let us be clear, IOM, and I believe the UN as whole, would not be able to operate inside Syria without the support of these courageous local partners. The example of the UN needs assessment programme is revealing. Syrian NGO aid workers risk their lives on a daily basis to help all of us acquire independent and impartial information on humanitarian needs inside Syria. Unfortunately, and until now, the ability for local partners to continue delivering humanitarian assistance continues to be undermined by parties to the conflict, which threatens our collective response inside Syria.
Secondly, I would like to touch upon the issue of returns. It was said earlier today, there are still more people newly displaced than people returning. Refugee return figures remain low. IDPs are returning in higher numbers. However, our last intention surveys show that a large majority of IDPs do not intend to return in 2019, because of insecurity, because they no longer have a home or a job to return to. It is therefore critical that we sustain our support to those who will continue to be displaced inside the country and to support those countries hosting millions of refugees. Once the political and security conditions will be met, return both of IDPs and Refugees will with no doubt require robust community stabilization and reintegration support.
Finally, in 2018, thanks to the international solidarity and generosity, IOM assisted over 1.2 million people across Syria and the region with multi-sector assistance. Last year, IOM, in support of UNHCR and concerned Member States, also resettled 30,000 Syrian refugees from Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt towards 23 countries. But as we heard today from refugees hosting Governments and UNHCR, more resettlement places are urgently needed.