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United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres arrived in Jordan late on Monday evening, 27 March.
On Tuesday morning, he travelled by road to the Zaatari Refugee Camp, in what he called a visit of solidarity.
While in the camp, the Secretary-General toured a number of projects run by United Nations agencies for some 80,000 residents, including a United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women)-run project that gives women cash for work opportunities manufacturing school uniforms and sewing kits. The Secretary-General had a chance to sit with some of the women to listen to their stories and the challenges they face every day in the camp, including issues related to violence and access to health care.
He also stopped by a school run by the Jordanian Government and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), one of the 14 schools in the camp; a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) clinic; and a Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)-funded project that aims to address the continuing learning needs of girls.
Speaking to the press before leaving the camp, the Secretary-General appealed to the parties to the conflict in Syria to understand that “we must make peace”. He said that the crisis has become a tragedy not only for the Syrian people, but is also a threat to the stability of the region and the world. Solidarity with Syrian refugees is “not only an act of generosity, it’s also an act of enlightened self-interest”, the Secretary-General added.
Asked about the ongoing Geneva talks, the Secretary-General saluted the work of his Special Envoy, Staffan de Mistura, whom he supports fully. The Secretary-General also saluted the tremendous generosity of the people and Government of Jordan. Mr. Guterres noted that Jordan, which has done so much for others, has not been receiving the support it should have received from the international community.
After leaving Zaatari, the Secretary-General met with King Abdullah II ibn al Hussein of Jordan. He and the King discussed regional and international issues, including the situations in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Libya and the common international fight against terrorism. The Secretary-General reiterated the United Nations’ commitment to a two-State solution to solve the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and in this regard, expressed support for the Arab Peace Initiative and King Abdullah’s leadership. The Secretary-General also expressed his appreciation for the generosity of the Jordanian Government and people in addressing the needs of Syrian refugees in Jordan.
The Secretary-General also had an opportunity to meet with the United Nations country team based in Jordan.
In the afternoon, the Secretary-General travelled by road to Ishtar on the Dead Sea where, the following day, he would participate in the opening session of the Summit of the League of Arab States.
On Tuesday evening the Secretary-General had a bilateral meeting with President Abdel Fattah al Sisi of Egypt, during which they discussed the situations in Libya and Iraq, as well as the Israeli-Palestinian situation.
In remarks to the opening session on Wednesday, 29 March, the Secretary-General said that the United Nations attaches the highest importance to its partnership with the Arab League. The Secretary-General also appealed to the leadership of the Arab region to shape a new Arab world able to address and solve by itself differences through dialogue and cooperation. He saluted the Arab tradition of hospitality, manifesting itself in the millions of refugees who have been given shelter throughout the region. “It breaks my heart,” he said, “to see developed countries closing their borders to refugees fleeing this region, and worse, sometimes invoking religion as a reason to keep them out.” (See Press Release SG/SM/18475.)
The Secretary-General also appealed to Arab unity in tackling the conflicts that are present in the region.
On the margins of the Summit, the Secretary-General held other bilateral meetings with King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa of Bahrain; President Michel Aoun of Lebanon; President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania; President Béji Caïd Essebsi of Tunisia; President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi Mansour of Yemen; Sayyid Asa’ad bin Tariq bin Taimur al Said, Deputy Prime Minister for Relations and International Cooperation Affairs of Oman; Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita of Morocco; and Abdelkader Bensala, the Speaker of the Algerian Senate.
He also attended a formal luncheon hosted by King Abdullah II ibn al-Hussein.
The Secretary-General flew to Iraq from Jordan early on Thursday morning, 30 March.