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Syria Donor Conference: It’s only together that the EU can influence Syria’s future

Today, the 4th Syria Donor Conference takes place in Brussels. It may get less attention than it deserves due to the Covid-19 crisis.

At present, a generation of children marked by war is growing up in Syria. The war has been ongoing for 10 years, and the youngest are particularly hard hit when funds aren’t available. These children lack everything: food, education and of course a safe environment, which is crucial for mental health. This is the very future of Syria being gambled away.

A window of opportunity is now opening up for the EU. The union is already the largest donor of humanitarian aid. In future, the EU will also have to finance reconstruction measures, and should use the funds strategically: to ensure access to humanitarian aid for all, to finance projects outside the control of the regime and to drive forward political processes.

One thing is clear: there can be no “normalisation” of relations with the Assad regime. As access to the International Criminal Court is blocked due to Russia’s blockade, alternative ways must be found to bring those responsible in Syria to justice. Universal jurisdiction is one possibility here. One example is a trial in Koblenz in Germany, where a former officer of the Assad regime has been taken to court for alleged human rights violations. EU Member States should join forces and pool resources and expertise for such trials.

The war in Syria is too important to be put off with a donor conference. The EU must make use of the opportunities currently available. And it must ensure that member states do not act bilaterally, or even get in the way of each other. It’s only united that the EU can influence Syria’s future. It cannot let down the people in the region, who have been suffering for a decade.

EU member states must work together

The war in Syria is too important to be put off with a donor conference.

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