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Press Release On the Meeting of Representatives from the Members of NES NGO Platform with the Delegation of the European Union to Syria

On May 11, ASO Center for Consultancy and Strategic Studies organized a meeting between representatives of the NES NGO Platform members, with Delegation of the EU Office concerned with Syrian affairs as part of its strategic plan to open channels of communication between the Platform's member organizations with international bodies concerned with the affairs of the democratic transition process in Syria and international donors interested in humanitarian affairs, to discuss the challenges facing CSOs’ work in NES and challenges of humanitarian work in the region.

The meeting, organized by ASO, was attended by Delegation of the EU office, a representative of the UN-OSE for Syria, representatives of the NPA, SIDA, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), representatives of the French and Danish Foreign Ministry and Swisspeace Center. Also, representatives of NES Forum and other guests representing some international organizations.

The meeting started with one representative of ASO Center for Consultancy and Strategic Studies speaking about challenges facing CSOs and the challenges of humanitarian work in NES, especially in light of the current undergoing circumstances in which the region, such as the constant closure of border crossings and humanitarian corridors, the low level of the International Euphrates River, which the Turkish government uses as a weapon of war against civilians, causing drought and affecting the agricultural sector, especially with the scarcity of rain this year. As well as, the widespread unemployment as a result of the economic conditions that Syria is undergoing in general, the deterioration of the Syrian currency, high prices, and the Coronavirus crisis and its repercussions. In addition to challenges concerning the lack of coordination between local and international organizations on the one hand, and the erroneous policies of the UN offices and their representations in NES in dealing with the humanitarian and civil affairs in the region.

The Delegation of the EU office also spoke about the difficulties that the office faces in working directly on the ground due to the lack of security stability and its reliance in working on the support of local and international civil organizations in various sectors, including education, protection, psychological support, empowerment, social cohesion, livelihood and property rights.

While the representatives of SIDA and NPA talked about the mechanisms of their work in NES, especially in the displacement camps. The representatives of both institutions stressed the continuation of support in developing the work of organizations in NES.

As for the representatives of the NES NGO Platform’s member organizations, they explained the most important challenges facing them and humanitarian work, including those related to funding policies by international donors, and the erroneous policies followed by international organizations and the UN representations in NES regarding how they address issues of the region on the one hand and the erroneous mechanisms adopted in how they deal with local organizations, which is either a result of weakness in coordination or due to direct implementation of projects in isolation from local organizations.

Most of the Platform members asked the attendees to pressure the UN offices in NES to change their policies, especially those related to how the UN offices and representations in NES deal only with organizations registered with the Damascus government, which is a reason for exploiting these projects to serve the Syrian regime’s agendas and the forces affiliated with it.

In this context, the EU Delegation, international donor organizations and the guests participating in the meeting commended the initiative of ASO Center for Consultancy and Strategic Studies for organizing this meeting and its relevance in the current stage and the next stages.

For its part, ASO Center for Consultancy and Strategic Studies thanked the EU Office Delegation and the participating guests for accepting the invitation and accepting to participate in this important event, hoping to meet again soon.

Amouda, 13 March 2021
ASO Center for Consultancy and Strategic Studies

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