UN chief visits Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, meets Middle Eastern leaders in capital

27 March 2016

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon continued his trip to the Middle East today with a visit to Jordan alongside World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, where they met with refugees from the Zaatari camp, as well as with senior government officials from Palestine, Turkey and Jordan, including King Abdullah II.

“I was here at the beginning of the establishment of Zaatari camp and I saw a lot of difference: first of all, much more people, unfortunately, are there without being able to return,” Mr. Ban told reporters at a press conference about his second visit to the camp since it opened in 2012.

“I saw lots of activities, signs of life. I could find everything which you may have in the centre of Amman city. Even a theatre was there, not to mention shopping centres and restaurants and sports centres. However nice all those facilities may be, it is not the same as what they could enjoy home in Syria,” he added.

The Secretary-General's activities also included an open dialogue with youth in the capital, Amman, at the University of Jordan. He said thanks to its strong institutions, he is confident the country “will continue to play a principled role in the region and the world.”

“Young people are not just the leaders of tomorrow; they are the leaders of today. And you are part of the biggest generation of young people in history,” he told them.

In meetings earlier today, Mr. Ban expressed his appreciation to Jordan for hosting Syrian refugees, and applauded the increased support by the international community to the countries most impacted by the Syrian crisis.

An international conference was recently convened in London by the UN, the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway and Kuwait, where $5.5 billion in funding was mobilized for this year. Mr. Ban said it was the “most successful one” but believes the global community needs to do much more.

“That is why we are going to convene this World Humanitarian Summit, which will be the first-ever in the history of the United Nations, to discuss and to bring out some predictable sustainable framework to provide humanitarian assistance to more than 120 million people around the world, including Syrian refugees, including many helpless, defenseless people around the world,” he underlined, referring to the upcoming meeting on 23 and 24 May in Istanbul.

In addition, he commended the Jordanian Government for launching the “Jordan 2025” development strategy, based on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Secretary-General and King Abdullah II also discussed the Middle East Peace Process, stressing the importance of a return to negotiations for a two-State solution. “The Secretary-General thanked Jordan for its important role as custodian of the Jerusalem holy sites,” the readout further indicated.

Meanwhile, in a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the UN chief reiterated his deep concern over the ongoing violence and the need for both sides to diffuse tensions.

“The Secretary-General further underscored the need for making progress on Palestinian unity and for greater leadership on the Gaza reconstruction. They also discussed the Middle East Peace Process, including the role of the Quartet,” said the readout.

Later with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the UN chief commended Turkey for hosting Syrian refugees and took note of its recent framework agreement with the European Union in this regard.


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