Norway’s Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet, Ap) wants to allocate an extra NOK 1 billion (USD 168 million) in aid to the crisis in Syria, because the humanitarian disaster there is “one of the worst in modern times.” Incoming leader Jonas Gahr Støre used his Labour Day speech on Thursday to call for intensified efforts towards the war-torn country.
“More than 120,000 have been killed,” said Støre, to the crowd gathered at Salangen in Troms, Northern Norway. “Nine million are displaced. Twelve million are affected by the world’s worst civil war. Norway can and should make a difference. The Labour Party therefore invites all the parties in Parliament to ensure one billion kroner more for Syria in the revised national budget.”
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that a funding increase for the Syrian crisis had broad support across the political spectrum, but the government would not be drawn on the amount of a possible aid increase.
“You will get to know what will come in the revised national budget when it is submitted in barely two weeks,” said Bård Glad Pedersen, the Conservative’s (Høyre) state secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Utenriksdepartementet). “But the will to stand up for Syria is great, because the need for help there is absolutely enormous.”
The Liberal Party Venstre has already suggested a NOK 1 billion aid increase, and the Centre Party (Senterpartiet, Sp) and Christian Democrats (Kristelig folkeparti, KrF) also voiced their support. The political will for extra funding follows Norway’s announcement of a relatively small intake of Syrian refugees later this year.
The war broke out in Syria in 2012. Efforts between the United States and Russia to help negotiate an end to the fighting have ceased, after relations froze following Russia’s intervention in Ukraine. Syria also faces one of its worst grain crises in 40 years, due to low rainfall, damaged irrigation infrastructure and farms left untended after families were driven away.