Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter has urged states to find solutions to end the war and stem the overwhelming tide of migrants fleeing to Europe from the Middle East.
“We need much greater willingness from all actors – all regional and global actors – for peace, otherwise we will just simply go on trying to treat the humanitarian consequences,” Burkhalter told Swiss public radio in Paris on Tuesday.
Burkhalter was attending an international conference in the capital opened by French president Françoise Hollande. The meeting aims to develop an action plan to protect and support victims of religious and ethnic violence in the Middle East.
For the past two years, Switzerland has also been leading a trilateral humanitarian dialogue with Iran and Syria to improve access and working conditions for humanitarian workers.
“All the actors must be pressured to participate in solutions,” the minister said.
He said politically, the main ray of hope at the moment for peace lay with the multilateral process launched by the UN, to which Switzerland is lending its support.
The Swiss foreign ministry said Switzerland backed a French plan for an international refugee conference to be held in Paris, announced by Hollande on Monday.
At the Paris gathering on Tuesday Burkhalter stressed that Switzerland has given CHF215 million ($220 million) towards victims of the Syrian conflict since 2011.
He also underlined Switzerland’s commitment to welcoming 3,000 extremely vulnerable Syrian refugees.
In view of the recent waves of refugees crossing Europe, states have announced plans to take in people. On Monday, British Prime Minister David Cameron said that over the next five years, the UK will re-settle 20,000 Syrians from refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan and Syria. Germany expects some 800,000 migrants this year alone. For France’s part, President Hollande says his country will welcome 24,000 Syrian refugees.
swissinfo.ch and agencies