Syria crisis: Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter to visit Jordan

Press release, 16.10.2015

Bern, 16.10.2015 - The head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter, will travel on 19 October 2015 for a two-day visit to Jordan, where he will take part in the OSCE Mediterranean Conference and meet with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Judeh, for bilateral talks. Mr Burkhalter will also visit a school in Amman which is supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) as well as the Azraq refugee camp, where the SDC is active in the water sector.

On the margins of the OSCE Mediterranean Conference on the theme of “Common security in the Mediterranean region – challenges and opportunities”, Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter will meet with his Jordanian counterpart, Nasser Judeh, to discuss bilateral relations between Switzerland and Jordan, regional developments and the Syria crisis.

During a field visit while in Jordan, Mr Burkhalter will visit humanitarian projects supported by Switzerland, including the An-Nahdah school, where 250 of the 1,100 pupils are from Syria. The SDC project is aimed at making infrastructural improvements to strengthen capacities and enhance the learning environment of schools that have taken in refugee children from Syria. In the An-Nahdah school, the SDC is renovating classrooms, repairing sanitary facilities and electrical installations, and improving the security of the premises.

Some 24,000 Syrian refugees are currently living in Azraq, Jordan’s second largest refugee camp. During his visit to the camp, Mr Burkhalter will sign a letter of intent with UNICEF pledging SDC support measures to ensure the water supply in the camp.

During his field visit, Mr Burkhalter will also meet with further representatives of UN aid agencies (UNHCR, UNRWA) and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

To date, Switzerland has allocated CHF 200 million in the region affected by the Syrian crisis. In September, the Federal Council allocated an additional CHF 70 million for humanitarian aid to the Syrian region and the Horn of Africa. The Federal Council concluded that the gravity of the crisis and its consequences for migration made additional, urgent efforts necessary. At the same time, the Federal Council called on the international community to swiftly increase appropriations for humanitarian aid. The Finance Delegation of the Parliament also recognised the urgent need to allocate funds, approving the appropriation on Friday.