$10 billion pledged at Syria conference must support local peacebuilding efforts now

London, 4 February 2016: Peacebuilding charity International Alert welcomes the commitment from world leaders at today’s high-level conference on 'Supporting Syria and the region' to pledge over US$10 billion towards relief efforts, and urges this to be invested in a way that contributes to lasting peace now.

The conference – jointly convened in London by David Cameron, Angela Merkel and the leaders of Norway, Kuwait and the United Nations – sets out a number of critical goals that include getting 700,000 Syrians back to school and tens of thousands into jobs.

International Alert welcomes the donors’ commitment to start planning for post-conflict peacebuilding in Syria and stresses that much ought to be done on the ground now to start this process. If delivered well, education and livelihoods, two main focusses of the conference, can already begin to pave the way for a peaceful future in Syria by reconciling polarised communities. Such interventions must be implemented in a way that does not further exacerbate tensions in a region that is feeling the strain from a huge influx of refugees.

As emphasised at a civil society event on Wednesday, local Syrian organisations and communities must be placed at the heart of this peacebuilding process. Against all odds, many are already leading the way in navigating the sensitivities of the region and laying the foundations for local peace. But they urgently need long-term support and funding.

Harriet Lamb, CEO of International Alert, said:

"The stalling of the peace talks in Geneva underlines the importance of investing in grassroots projects which are already rebuilding trust and inspiring hope within communities. Peace in the end must always come from the ‘bottom up’, as well as the ‘top down’."

An end to the fighting and the need for food and shelter is critical, and Syrians also need to rebuild a future. Supporting local peacebuilding efforts now will make a great difference to people’s lives in the long term.

Notes to editors:

- Experts on Syria and the Middle East available for interview

- Press pack and digital content downloadable here

- Social media: @intalert | #SupportSyrians

For more information and to arrange interviews with Alert’s experts on the Middle East, please contact:

Ilaria Bianchi, Head of Communications
M +44 (0) 7910 255 256, T +44 (0) 207 627 6858