World should have paid more attention to region — UN official

By Muath Freij – Jan 19,2016 – JORDAN TIMES – By Muath Freij


AMMAN – The influx of Syrian refugees heading to Europe is a result of the lack of attention paid to the region in the past five years, the president of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Mogens Lykketoft said on Tuesday. 

In an interview with The Jordan Times in Amman, Lykketoft said the nature of the refugee crisis that faced Europe recently made it so difficult for the European governments and EU to deal with. 

“We should have realised much earlier that there was this huge need of more help to go to the refugees and to the neighbouring countries to Syria,” he told The Jordan Times. 

Commenting on the humanitarian financing report that was revealed in Dubai on Sunday, the UN official said the report shows that the world is dealing with even double the estimated number of people who are dependent on some kind of aid.

The global refugee crisis, he said, is not blamed entirely on armed conflicts but also on natural catastrophes, including famines such as the one witnessed now in Ethiopia. 

“It is clearly related to climate change, so for all these reasons there is this huge increase in the needs,” he added.   

Lykketoft noted that there is a need to appeal very strongly to all the UN member states to provide the United Nations and other relief organisations with the necessary amount of resources to deal with “this exploding humanitarian crisis.”

He noted that visits the UN officials pay to Jordan constitute one way to attract stronger global attention to the problem and to have a first-hand idea of the actual needs of refugees.  

Jordan hosts around 1.3 Syrian refugess, 15 per cent of whom live in refugee camps in the eastern areas of the Kingdom.

Commenting on the Syrian refugees who are camping across the border with Syria, Lykketoft said he understands the security concerns of Jordan. 

“I understand [that these] refugees come from the areas where ISIS [Daesh] is very active right now. It is a very legitimate concern that terrorists may join the people who try to escape the conflict and of course that has happened … in Europe…. It is a terrible situation because we cannot always look at the faces and say who is the refugee and who is the one who is trying to hide,” he added. 

Lykketoft also stressed that there is a need to support the hosting countries in the region, including Jordan. 

All these things have to be managed in a way that ensures that refugees would not become an extremely heavy burden for the host communities.   

Lykketoft said there is “optimism” about the Vienna talks over the future of Syria. 

“I mean the roadmap is there and now it is up to both major powers and the permanent members of the Security Council as well as the regional powers to put pressure on the parties Syrian conflict to end the fighting and start the political process,” he said, adding that the ongoing conflict in Syria will make Daesh stronger if it was not solved.  

The UNGA president said there is a need for countries around the world to take more refugees, but at the same time, it is good to try to keep these people in the region in order to help rebuild Syria after the conflict ends. 

“So it is not only the political implications for Europe but there are many other reasons concerning the future of Syria. We know that there are educated and economically resourceful people who went to Europe and they will be needed in Syria in the future,” he added.   

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