Vienna, 13 August 2013 Press release

Austria responds to aggravation of humanitarian crisis in Syria

Spindelegger announces increase of humanitarian aid for Syria

Vienna, 13 August 2013 – In view of the alarming situation in Syria – according to UN estimates, more than 1.7 million people have already fled from the violence in Syria to neighbouring countries, more than 4 million people are internally displaced – Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger today announced that Austria will increase its humanitarian aid for Syria by another 600,000 euros.

To date, Austria has provided some 6 million euros to alleviate the severe humanitarian crisis in Syria, and by increasing additional funds from the Foreign Disaster Relief Fund, Austria is responding to the alarming deterioration of the situation in Syria itself as also in the neighbouring countries: "The additional funds are to be used to support aid projects of Austrian NGOs for Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries", Spindelegger said and referred to the growing number of Syrian refugees who impose a major burden on the neighbouring countries of Lebanon and Jordan in particular.

According to information of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the largest number of refugees have fled to Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Other target countries are Iraq and Egypt. The international community is called upon to provide aid and support urgently.

Spindelegger continued: "The humanitarian crisis also illustrates that it is imperative that the efforts of the international community of states for a political solution to the conflict in Syria be continued. Austria is therefore pushing for the Syria Conference, that has been planned for months, to be held in Geneva as soon as possible."

On the occasion of today's session of the Austrian Ministerial Council, the Vice-Chancellor said: "Austria is going to support the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ (OCHA) protection programme for refugees and internally displaced persons in countries with humanitarian crises with 300,000 euros from the Foreign Disaster Relief Fund." Protecting civilians in conflicts and strengthening human rights of people and groups deserving special protection (such as minorities, internally displaced persons and women) have been priorities of Austria's multilateral foreign policy since its membership in the UN Security Council (2009 - 2010). These issues are also in the focus of Austria's work on the UN Human Rights Council.

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