UN secretary-general offers praise for Syrian refugee support efforts
2016-04-01 11:07:50 -
Human Rights

By Chinedu Onyejelem


The secretary-general of the United Nations has praised the generosity of three Middle Eastern countries towards Syrian refugees.

Ban Ki-moon expressed his appreciation to the government and people of Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan as well as Tunisia during recent official visits to some of these countries.

In Lebanon, Ban told Prime Minister and acting President Tammam Salam that “few countries have demonstrated the generosity that the government and people of Lebanon have shown towards Syrian refugees.” 

The UN chief urged politicians in the country to unite before the current power vacuum in the country and its related atmosphere of uncertainty become a significant problem. 

“It is vital that the vacuum in the presidency is filled as soon as possible, in order for Lebanon to be whole again,” the UN added in a statement.

Ban, who was accompanied by Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group, and Islamic Development Bank president Ahmad Mohamed Ali Al-Madani, also visited communities hosting Syrian and Palestinian refugees, where they promised to continue supporting them.

At Zaatari camp in Jordan, where he was accompanied by King Abdullah II and senior government officials from Palestine and Turkey, Moon highlighted how Jordan has continued to help refugees there.

“I saw lots of activities, signs of life,” he said of his second visit to the camp. “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 at home in Syria.”

Ban also visited the University of Jordan where he had an audience with a youth group. While expressing his thanks to their support for refugees, he added he was 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 said.

Earlier, Ban shared with King Abdullah II his belief that the international community must do more to help Syrian refugees as well as those countries most impacted by the Syrian crisis.

But Ban also praised the recent international conference in London organised by the UN, the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway and Kuwait, which raised $5.5bn in funding for refugee support in 2016.

And he looked forward to the UN’s first ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul on 23-24 May, where it is hoped to establish frameworks “to provide humanitarian assistance to more than 120 million people around the world, including Syrian refugees, including many helpless, defenceless people around the world.”

On the Middle East peace process, Ban said it was vital that Israel and Palestine returned to talks aimed at agreeing a two-state solution. He also thanked Jordan for its important role as custodian of the Jerusalem holy sites.

Later, during a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the UN chief condemned the ongoing violence and called for calm, underscoring the need for making progress on Palestinian unity and for greater leadership in the reconstruction of Gaza.

The UN secretary-general also expressed his appreciation to the people and government of Turkey for hosting Syrian refugees during a meeting with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Earlier, while in Iraq, Ban told politicians that they must come together if they are to uproot terrorism in the region.

Acknowledging that some progress has been made, he said he remained extremely concerned about the enormous challenges the country faces.

“National reconciliation is an important part of the strategy to defeat Da’esh, who have ruthlessly exploited divisions and targeted the marginalised and disenfranchised,” said Ban at a press conference after meeting Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, foreign minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and other government representatives.

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