Speech Article from
Address by Minister Bibeau at press conference to announce Canada's new strategy to respond to Middle East crisis
February 8, 2016 - Ottawa, Ontario
Check Against Delivery. This speech has been translated in accordance with the official languages policy and edited for posting and distribution in accordance with the Government of Canada’s communications policy.
I have just returned from Jordan and Lebanon, where I visited a number of development projects and humanitarian projects supported by Canada.
I also met with families preparing to leave for Canada as part of our plan to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees over three months.
In Jordan, I witnessed the generosity of the host communities.
But it is clear that the massive arrival of refugees is outpacing their ability to provide adequate services.
Things like access to basic education, health care and sanitation services have become a struggle to provide.
Lebanon is also facing enormous challenges, with the arrival of over 1 million Syrian refugees in a country of only 4 million people.
Including all refugees in the country, about one in three people living in Lebanon today is a refugee. This staggering reality can lead to more instability.
The message I received while I was in the region, and from the leaders of Jordan and Lebanon at the Syria Donors Conference in London, was clear: their countries are at a breaking point. They need help.
That is why Canada is making a multi-year commitment to provide over $1 billion in humanitarian and development assistance as part of our comprehensive, whole-of-government strategy, which also balances security and stability.
I do want to make clear that we understand—and I will make sure—that our humanitarian assistance will not be tied to other aspects of our strategy.
Canada fully respects the principles of neutrality, impartiality, humanity and independence, which are vitally necessary in these situations.
We have the expertise, the resources and the close partnerships with the most trusted and experienced humanitarian and development organizations on the ground.
This strategy builds on these strengths so that Canada can make an impact where it is needed most.
We will provide much-needed humanitarian assistance, such as urgent health services, water, shelter, protection and food for the most vulnerable people caught in the conflicts in the Middle East.
We will also enhance our long-term development contributions to Canadian, local and international partners who are working to increase the resilience of countries and communities coping with the pressures of hosting large numbers of refugees and displaced people.
Our plan will support host governments and communities to deliver adequate services, to rebuild infrastructure and to create jobs so that adults can earn a living and children can be children with hope for the future—rather than becoming recruitment targets for violent extremist groups.
Today’s announcement builds on the work Canada has already been doing in the region, such as the $100 million contribution I announced last November for the UNHCR’s [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] ongoing efforts inside Syria and in neighbouring countries to address urgent humanitarian needs.
We are also building on our government’s commitment to match donations by Canadians through the Syria Emergency Relief Fund.
This integrated strategy demonstrates our commitment to playing an important and sustained role in addressing the crisis and working constructively throughout the region over a multi-year period to bring some sense of stability to those who are displaced and suffering.
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