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Concern CEO calls for revitalised EU leadership on Syria in face of brute militarisation

Press release25 April 2018

Concern CEO Dominic MacSorley has welcomed Ireland’s financial pledge announced today by Tanaiste and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney and Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development, Ciaran Cannon at the Brussels Conference on the Syrian crisis.

Concern Worldwide CEO Dominic MacSorley speaks at the Irish Humanitarian Summit. Photograph taken by UCD CHA.
Concern CEO Dominic MacSorley speaks at the Irish Humanitarian Summit. Photograph: UCD CHA.

Mr MacSorley also called for revitalised EU leadership to drive for a political solution to the conflict and demanded immediate unimpeded access to populations in need within Syria.

The Syrian war, now in its 8th year, has brought death and destruction on an unimaginable scale to the country and there is still no end in sight. The first four months of this year have been amongst the most ferociously violent of any period of the war.

There are now over 13 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria and over six million displaced within the country. The needs of these people are immense. Concern’s ‘Shattered Lives’ report from 2016 already drew attention to the all-pervasive nature of the violence and the daily toll that war was having on civilians, socially, economically and psychologically. Today’s conference highlighted that two years on, the challenges of survival are even greater.

The financial commitments made are critically important right now, however they need to be met with a guarantee of humanitarian access, something that has been systematically and criminally denied on a huge scale in Syria, and a renewed political vigour at the level of the EU to find a solution to the conflict.

Dominic MacSorley says: “The prospect of peace in Syria seems to have now disappeared entirely from the horizon and we appear to be left with brute militarisation at any cost to civilians and reactive strikes with little or no new investment in seeking political solutions. It is the Syrian people who continue to suffer through all of this and we cannot turn our backs on them.

“The involvement of the world’s powers in the Syrian conflict has effectively paralysed the UN Security Council so now is the time for the EU to mount an ambitious diplomatic effort to consolidate an effective ceasefire in Syria.

“Ireland has a role to play in pushing for greater EU leadership. Our experience of conflict and peacebuilding sits alongside our standing on the international stage as militarily neutral, energetically outward-looking, and focused on the world’s most vulnerable people. We owe it to the people of Syria to continue to raise our collective voice to help bring an end to the horror they continue to endure.”

Concern operates one of its largest humanitarian response programmes within Syria and its neighbouring countries providing food, water and shelter to people affected by the war.

Concern’s Director for International Programmes, Anne O’Mahony said at the Brussels conference that the toll on the people in Syria was unimaginable. 

“Conflict has destroyed what were once well-developed health, education and social services. But beyond the bricks and mortar, the physical and psychological impact on women and children in particular cannot be overstated. Agencies such as Concern could do much more on the ground with additional funding, matched with sustained humanitarian access to all populations in need. Above all however what is needed is peace, a political solution to the conflict that would end the daily horror.”

For further information, please contact Media Relations Manager, Catriona Loughran on 086 783 4846 or email

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