Norway signs memorandum of understanding with Syrian opposition

Today Norway signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces on continued cooperation. “Having a strong and unified opposition is crucial if we are to find a political solution to the brutal Syrian civil war,” said State Secretary Torgeir Larsen. 

In the new memorandum of understanding with Norway, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces undertakes to respect fundamental humanitarian principles and to facilitate humanitarian access to the areas in Syria under its control. 

“Having a stronger and more effective opposition that has committed itself to humanitarian principles gives hope that we can gain better access to the 6.8 million people we know are in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria,” said Mr Larsen.

Torgeir Larsen og Suhair Atassi
State Secretary Torgeir Larsen and Vice President of the Syrian National Coalition Suhair Atassi today signed a memorandum of understanding on continued cooperation between Norway and the Syrian opposition. (Photo: Ragnhild Imerslund, MFA)

Today Mr Larsen met the leaders of the Syrian National Coalition in Istanbul in Turkey, having visited Syrian refugees in a refugee camp at Gaziantep close to the border with Syria, representatives of Syrian local councils and representatives of Norwegian and international aid organisations that are working in Syria.

“The suffering in Syria is enormous, and there can be no military solution to the conflict. A political solution is the only way out of the current bloodshed, and Norway’s increased support for the Syrian opposition is a contribution to ongoing international efforts to facilitate negotiations,” Mr Larsen said.

Norway will allocate USD 10 million to strengthening local civil administration in Syria and to supporting the work of the National Coalition. The funds from Norway will also be used to ensure that women’s rights and influence are safeguarded in the process of building a new and democratic Syria.

“By entering into this memorandum of understanding, our intention is to help ensure that the political and military leaders of the Syrian opposition are aware of their responsibility to build a democratic Syria in which human rights for all Syrians are respected, irrespective of gender or religious affiliation,” Mr Larsen said. 

So far this year, Norway has provided NOK 310 million in humanitarian assistance to Syria. According to UN estimates, at least 80 000 people have been killed because of the civil war, and 1.5 million people have fled the country.   

 

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