Opinion: A Syria conference without consequence? | World| Breakings news and perspectives from around the globe | DW | 29.10.2014
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Opinion: A Syria conference without consequence?

The Syrian refugee conference in Berlin was expressly not about making concrete financial pledges. DW's Dagmar Engel gives 10 reasons why the conference may still prove to have been an important moment.

1. Outside of the region, the major refugee catastrophe had already been nearly forgotten. The armed conflict against the "Islamic State" (IS) terror militia has eclipsed all other news from the region.

2. It has now been clearly recognized that the refugees aren't the only ones in a desperate situation. The countries taking them in are also in desperate need of support.

3. The cry for help from Syria's neighbors has seldom been heard in such a loud and intense way. The foreign ministers from Lebanon and Jordan made an impassioned appeal concerning the urgency of the situation in their countries.

4. It was moving to learn of the willingness for sacrifice these two small countries in particular are showing their neighbors in need.

5. It's simultaneously shameful for wide swaths of the international community. This increases willingness to do more to get engaged and support the receiving countries and their communities. That could even lead to a situation in which the infrastructure and wealth grows at a faster rate in the cities and villages offering a home to refugees than comparable places elsewhere in the region.

6. Syrian refugees will not be sent back as long as the war rages on. The Lebanese government has already for some time promoted repatriation to parts of Syria less fraught with war. But at the conference, the attendees - including Jordan - explicitly gave this plan no support.

7. Germany is seeing public recognition for its commitment. It has already taken in 70,000 Syrian refugees - more than every other country in Europe.

8. That public recognition is also raising pressure on other EU nations. The discussion about the contingents of refugees is being revived. Money that's at hand anyway for immediate aid may finally be released.

9. Germany is also the frontrunner with a pledge of an additional 500 million euros for the next three years. It will be invested in infrastructure like hospitals, supplying water and children's education. Others will hopefully follow the example.

10. They have no solution, and they acknowledge it. The pledges at the conference for the countries taking in refugees are, at the same time, statements that the bloodshed in Syria will continue. There's honesty in that. A political solution is being sought, but it's not in sight.

Dagmar Engel

DW's Dagmar Engel

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