The European Commission and the High Representative are presenting the first EU comprehensive strategy on tackling the crises in Syria and Iraq and the threat posed by Da'esh. It brings together ongoing and planned initiatives of the EU and its Member States and boosts their efficiency, with an additional € 1 billion in funding for the next two years.
With this substantial package, the EU will ensure steady and predictable funding for essential priorities: relief, stabilisation and development in the region, as well as countering the threat posed by terrorist groups like Da'esh. These political, social, and humanitarian measures target Syria and Iraq, but also Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.
High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini said: "This package will strengthen our actions to help restore peace and security in a region that is so close to us and that has been devastated by terrorism and violence for too long. We are now better equipped to do more together – with our Member States, regional partners and the international community – in political and diplomatic terms as well as through aid and on security. We can now better tackle the root causes of instability and violence.
The murder of Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh just days ago is further proof that terrorism has no boundaries and that Muslims are the first victims of Da'esh. We face common challenges and common threats. We share an interest with our friends and partners in the region to stand up to them in the most effective way. And this is what we are doing today".
The new strategy will champion activities that reinforce each other and therefore increase the effect of Europe's solidarity and political support. It includes a mix of political and practical measures ranging from diplomatic engagement, provision of basic services and resilience-building to anti-radicalisation programmes, fight against terrorist financing, prevention against foreign fighters and better border controls.
The Communication 'Elements for an EU regional strategy for Syria and Iraq as well as the Da'esh threat' will engage in regional as well as country specific measures. Among them are:
About 40% of the new financial assistance will be channelled in form of life-saving humanitarian assistance, within Syria and Iraq as well as neighbouring countries hosting Syrian refugees. Roughly three quarters of this aid will go towards the victims of the Syria crisis. The new strategy puts special emphasis on linking the immediate relief with the medium and long-term needs of those displaced people, particularly children and young people. This new approach will promote resilience, recovery and post-conflict reintegration and development.
Preventing regional spill-overs of the two crises
The strategy proposes to build up EU assistanceto neighbouring countries to help them cope with the refugee influx, ensure their security and to support their local resilience and recovery capacities. Jordan and Lebanon, notably, will be supported in the field of security and border management: a Dialogue on migration, mobility and security with Lebanon started in December 2014 while a Mobility Partnership with Jordan was signed in October 2014. Furthermore, EU aid will continue to play a pivotal role in limiting the regional spill-over by helping host communities share the burden of refugees and helping limit further displacement.
For instance, by making education and vocational training of children and adolescents key priority sectors, the EU will address both the root causes of Da’esh's emergence and mitigate regional crisis impacts (3.8 million Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries and 7.6 million internally displaced persons in Syria alone).
The Strategy envisages combining Member State and EU actions to stem the flow of foreign fighters and support Syria's neighbours in enhancing their border security, engage in advocacy and communication to countering violent extremism in the region, targeting the most exposed segments of the population, in particular the youth. EU engagement in this area will be bolstered by the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP), the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) and CFSP financing where appropriate. The EU will also continue to prioritise on education for children and adolescents - this is the most efficient way to curb extremism.
The EU is the leading donor of support for the victims of the crisis in Syria, with more than € 3.2 billion in assistance from the Commission and Member States. The EU has also been supporting Iraq with all tools at its disposal, including humanitarian aid (boosted repeatedly since early last year), development support and political dialogue.
This Communication will be tabled at the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Communication "Elements for an EU regional strategy for Syria and Iraq as well as the Da'esh threat": http://ec.europa.eu/echo/files/news/20150206_JOIN_en.pdf
Syria factsheet (EEAS):
EU humanitarian aid in Syria: http://ec.europa.eu/echo/files/aid/countries/factsheets/syria_en.pdf#view=fit
EU humanitarian aid in Iraq: http://ec.europa.eu/echo/files/aid/countries/factsheets/iraq_en.pdf
EU humanitarian aid for the victims of the Syrian crisis (press release): http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-15-3883_en.htm