Conflict and Fragility

Policy briefs

How the Aid Fund for Northern Syria can upgrade humanitarian aid and EU geopolitical engagement

29 Apr 2024 - 11:03
Source: ©Reuters - The United Nations enters a humanitarian aid convoy into northern Syria through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey after a months-long hiatus

UN bureaucratic inertia, weak leadership, Stockholm syndrome and a laissez-faire attitude by donors have allowed structural problems with humanitarian aid delivery in Syria to persist for too long. These problems include regime capture of aid, dependency on Damascus to deliver aid cross-border and, more recently, too much focus on lifesaving aid. The coming humanitarian funding crunch demands that these problems are finally addressed at pain of a rapid increase in the misery of millions of Syrians. This will have consequences both in terms of local predation and international migration. The Aid Fund for Northern Syria (AFNS) could be the vehicle to break existing molds due to its more diverse governance structure, independence of both Damascus and the UN, greater focus on Early Recovery and an innovative, if emergent, localisation strategy. As a bonus, it can support a pragmatic conflict management strategy for northern Syria based on the ‘safe, calm and neutral environment’ concept of the 2012 Geneva Communiqué and UNSCR 2254. Donors should consider the practical actions proposed in this brief to put their money where their mouths are.

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