Syria: IV Brussels Conference

Statement by the ILO Director-General to the Brussels IV Conference supporting Syria and the region

“Let us focus on building back better with a human-centred approach with and for refugees and their host communities,” ILO Director-General Guy Ryder has said to the Brussels IV Conference on supporting the future of Syria and the region, convened by the EU.

Statement | 30 June 2020

Today, we come together to reaffirm the continued solidarity of the international community with the Syrian people and refugees and the neighbouring countries and communities hosting them. Our support is all the more necessary during this extraordinarily challenging time of the COVID 19 pandemic. Times like these put solidarity to the test.

If for the world at large the pandemic has meant privation and constraints, for Syrian displaced persons and refugees, and the vulnerable communities hosting them, the pressure has been intense.

As we well know, even before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, host countries and refugees were grappling with severe economic, financial, social and humanitarian crises. Their resources and capacities were depleted, testing their resilience and the resilience of their own people to the limit.

COVID 19 has aggravated this situation. For refugees and host communities alike, most cannot afford to be unemployed, they cannot work from home and consequently they must risk contagion and work simply to survive.

The ILO has been an advocate for and worked to promote comprehensive approaches to the refugee crisis that respond to the immediate needs of the most vulnerable, while simultaneously helping to address the long-term structural challenges of the economies and labour markets of host countries.

This experience has generated knowledge, tools, and outreach that we can draw on in responding to the new economic and livelihoods challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have been leveraging this know-how over the past months:
  • to support business continuity, resilience and decent job retention in Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises;
  • to promote skills transfer and e-learning;
  • to create more inclusive social protection frameworks and support access to existing social security systems;
  • to promote Occupational Safety and Health in COVID-19 responses; and
  • to improve labour market governance.
As we go forward
  • let us demonstrate international solidarity and cooperation in building a strong bridge between humanitarian and development action
  • let us expand significantly our activities to assure protection and to promote job creation and income earning activities; and finally
  • let us focus on building back better with a human centred approach with and for refugees and their host communities