You are here

King urges increased global engagement ‘without delay’ to tackle refugee crisis

Sep 22,2016 - Last updated at Sep 22,2016

Photo courtesy of Royal Court

Following is the full text of His Majesty King Abdullah’s speech at the Leaders’ on Refugees in New York on Tuesday:

In the Name of God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate, Praise be to God, Prayers and peace be upon our Prophet Mohammad, Ladies and Gentlemen, Let me first thank President Obama for his leadership at a make-or-break moment for our international community.

Mr President, as always, thank you for your warm words of guidance and reminding us on the moral authority that all of us can take to continue to raise the bar and making a difference for humanity. All of us can always do that little bit more. So I wanted, on behalf of many of us here, just to thank you for those very kind words of wisdom, and hopefully we won’t let you down.

Today's unprecedented global refugee crisis remains a humanitarian disaster and it is proving to be an increasing threat to global security, development and economic growth. This is a collective responsibility and we need to raise the level of global engagement without delay. Creative ideas are needed. I thank my co-host nations and all who are participating with us today.

I wish to make only three points.

First is the vital importance of basing our actions on the reality of the situation, not simply our wishes or expediency.

My country brings to this summit Jordan's long and first-hand knowledge of this very complex issue. For many years, our country's security and stability and our citizens' generous compassion have led desperate refugees to our doors. In the past five years the Syrian crisis has sent Jordan's burden skyrocketing. Some 2.5 million Syrians have crossed into Jordan since 2011. Today we are hosting 1.5 million Syrians, one for every five of our own citizens. Across my country, Jordanians are suffering. No one is justified in questioning our commitment and sacrifices. The economic and social impact has shocked every sector, every community; and it has set back the strides of our economy and has created tremendous problems in our development, job growth and debt reduction. We are spending a quarter of our national budget on refugee-related costs.

Such a situation is plainly unsustainable. And yet, all countries agree that the Syrian refugee crisis will be with us all for years to come, and a sustainable solution is the key. If regional refugee hosts are abandoned and left to fail, the need won't disappear. The crisis will simply spread further, prolonging the time it takes to end this ordeal. The cost in human suffering will be unspeakable.

As a collective effort, we must now adequately respond to the true expected need, the true broad impact, and the true duration of the crisis. To this end, Jordan has put forward an effective, sustainable, development-driven plan to support hosts and refugees alike. Our approach will build on international partnership, trade, and investment to create opportunities and income that both Jordanians and Syrians need.

My second basic point is we need to work as a team. The refugee crisis requires not just commitment but follow-through. Any effective, development-based, longer-term solution will need to engage host countries; donors; the private sector as well. Shortfalls in funding, lack of participation, will undermine shared goals.

Together, we must translate pledges reached at the London conference and this summit into results on the ground and where they are most needed to strengthen capacity and resilience, at the national and community level.

The private sector also has a critical role. My country is working closely with the international community to implement new programs. One important initiative is the relaxation of EU rules of origin, supporting jobs-rich trade under easier conditions and simpler terms. Our priority is to create jobs in local communities, especially those hardest hit by the refugee inflow.

And, in the past few months, we have issued more than 28 thousand work permits to Syrian refugees. More than 160 thousand Syrian young people are in our schools, and we hope by the end of this year to be able to add at least another 40 thousand. This will allow Syrian young people in schools to acquire the tools they will need as adults, to rebuild post-conflict Syria.

My final point is that a truly sustainable solution should begin by safeguarding Syrian women and children from being used by Daesh and other terrorist organisations, which are manipulating human trafficking and taking advantage of the movement of displaced groups. It is imperative that the international community steps up to help and provide support for Syrians inside Syria, and not wait till the refugee crisis further aggravates.

My friends, Jordan has done much and remains committed to doing the right thing. I hope we all do the same. I look forward to the success of our summit.

Thank you. 

116 users have voted.


Get top stories and blog posts emailed to you each day.