Fresh efforts in Brussels to support the future of Syria

Senior figures from scores of countries and international organisations gathered for a three-day European Union-hosted conference on Syria, in which journalists from Thomson Foundation’s OPEN Media Hub project were present. 

In a fresh effort to secure pledges for aid, the United Nations’ humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock opened the conference in Brussels by saying: “Syria remains one of the great crises of our time”.

With the conflict entering its ninth year, approximately 11.7 million Syrians still depend on aid, and more than six million have been forced from their homes but remain in the country. Another six million have fled Syria, and refugees are reluctant to return, fearing violence, conscription or prison.


An installation featuring a drawing by a Syrian girl placed by Save the Children outside the European Commission and Council headquarters ahead of the Syria donors conference in Brussels


During the conference, aid groups appealed for funds to help Syria recover, but the narrative soon moved beyond pledges to pressing issues that included the struggling UN-led peace process, attempts at forced returns of refugees by host countries amid intense domestic pressure, and the politics of a settlement with Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad.

Journalists from Syria, Jordan and Lebanon covered the conference with assistance from the OPEN Media Hub. Mentors and experts worked with the journalists to gather information, secure interviews and help tackle complex topics, such as the impact of war on children and the role women play in finding solutions to the crisis.

The journalists’ stories are available via the OPEN Media Hub content exchange platform:

Syria remains one of the great crises of our time.

UN humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock


The conference ended with donors making a record pledge of €8.3billion for "2019 and beyond”, for humanitarian aid inside Syria and for refugees living in difficult conditions in neighbouring Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, as well as Egypt.

“We’re very pleased with the outcome,” and that the funds “will help to save millions of lives and protect civilians across Syria and across the region,” Lowcock told donors in Brussels.


OPEN Media Hub is an EU-funded project implemented by a Thomson Foundation-led consortium.

The Freedom Bus in Brussels

The Freedom Bus travelled from London to Paris and Berlin and, on 13th March, was in Brussels for the Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region conference. Families from inside Syria and around the world sent in hundreds of photos of their detained or missing loved ones to demand freedom and justice. 

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