Photo Guido Koppes

Syrian refugees quickly need to be given the prospect of a better life in the region – that is, in the countries surrounding Syria. During the Netherlands EU Presidency ministers from members states met to discuss this several times. They have pledged extra funding to support the region.

Many forms of support

The EU provides various forms of support for the reception of refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq. Refugees are being helped to obtain work, education, care and water. The Netherlands alone has already contributed €360.65 million to alleviating the crisis in Syria, Iraq and the surrounding region. The EU has contributed several billion euros. Similar support is being provided to host communities – the inhabitants of towns and villages which have taken in many refugees.

One of the locations where refugees are received in Jordan is Zaatari refugee camp.
The camp lies to the east of Mafraq and houses over 110,000 refugees.
Ms Ploumen at a meeting for development ministers.

‘Safety, food and a roof over their heads is not enough,’ development minister Lilianne Ploumen said. ‘These refugees need work, education for their children, and a place in society. This is a huge challenge for countries like Lebanon and Jordan, which they cannot meet alone.’

Economic prospects

The EU ministers wish to strengthen economic relations with Syria’s neighbours. Boosting trade and investment will improve the countries’ economic prospects. Jordan and Lebanon should take their own steps to improve refugees’ prospects, such as issuing work permits.

Some refugees in Zaatari refugee camp have started small businesses, like this woman selling fruit and vegetables ...
... and this money changer. Most transactions in the refugee camp are done in cash. (All photos: Guido Koppes)

Aid and trade

Reception in the region was also discussed on 2 February when European trade ministers gathered at a joint lunch meeting with development ministers for the first time. They discussed ways for EU member states and the European Commission to better align their policies on aid and trade.