London conference

Posted on Feb 4, 2016

NORWAC participated when civil society came together on February 3, the day before the Supporting Syria and the Region London conference to discuss how to support Syrians inside Syria and in the region. 

A political solution to the crisis in Syria needs to be found. We call for an immediate end to siege tactic, attacks on civilian life and infrastructure, in particular health facilities, and demand unhindered access to humanitarian aid. In the absence of a political solution, displacement as well as humanitarian and protection needs of civilians will worsen in 2016.

The humanitarian community must prepare for a long and protracted crisis in which immediate relief should remain a top priority. NORWAC applauds the announced commitment by donors to increase humanitarian funding in 2016, and provide multi-year support for humanitarian assistance. We welcome the particular focus on health and education. Wherever possible such assistance should prioritize support and empowerment of Syrian civil society organization, and encourage partnerships with international non-governmental organizations. Syrian civil society will be the backbone of early recovery and future efforts to rebuild Syria.


Around 12.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria, including 7.6 million internally displaced people. We urge international donors to support health infrastructure inside Syria for the following reasons:

Firstly, because many people are not able to flee Syria to neighboring countries due to the security situation or health conditions. People in need of medical attention; severely sick, chronically ill, the elderly, and infants are the most vulnerable groups during migration. Consequently, they are not likely to seek refuge in neighboring countries. Securing health services close to their place of residence is therefore vital. Secondly, because Syria is experiencing a considerable medical "brain drain" as thousands of doctors, nurses and other health personnel escape the violence. Thirdly, the increasing numbers of people in need of medical help is straining existing health services in each of the neighboring countries. By ensuring health services inside Syria, we may reduce the pressure from refugees on host communities.

Children receiving thalassemia treatment in Lebanon, funded by NORWAC

Children receiving thalassemia treatment in Lebanon, funded by NORWAC

The region

The continuous crisis in Syria has had a draining impact on national health systems and services in the neighboring countries, with millions of refugees seeking sanctuary across the region. Coupled with unsecure living conditions, insufficient access to health personnel, medical supplies, and inadequate service delivery refugees face an increased risk of health problems. International assistance to Syrian refugees in the region should prioritize the utilization of existing local health infrastructure, thereby also supporting the host communities.


By Stein Omar Gjendem