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Swiss top diplomat due in Jordan Monday

By JT - Oct 18,2015 - Last updated at Oct 18,2015

Amman — Didier Burkhalter, Swiss federal councillor, will travel to the Kingdom on Monday to take part in the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Mediterranean Conference and meet with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Judeh.

Burkhalter, who is the head of the Swiss federal department of foreign affairs, will visit the Azraq Refugee Camp as well as the An Nahdah School in Amman supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), a statement released by the Swiss embassy said.

In his meeting with Judeh, which will occur on the margins of the conference titled "Common security in the Mediterranean region — challenges and opportunities", Burkhalter will discuss bilateral relations between the two nations, focusing on regional developments and the Syrian crisis. 

The SDC has been aiming to improve infrastructure, strengthen capacities and enhance learning environments of schools that have taken in Syrian refugee children. At the An Nahdah School, which the SDC is renovating, repairing sanitary facilities and electrical installations and improving security, one in five pupils are from Syria. 

Burkhalter will sign a letter of intent with UNICEF, pledging SDC support measures to ensure water supply, during his visit to Azraq. He will also meet with representatives of UN agencies such as UNHCR and UNRWA, as well as with the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to the Swiss statement. 

Azraq is currently Jordan's second largest refugee camp, housing some 24,000 refugees. To date, Switzerland has allocated 200 million Swiss francs (approximately $210 million) to the region affected by the Syrian crisis. In September, a further 70 million Swiss francs (approx. $73 million) was extended to the Syrian region and the Horn of Africa, the statement said. 

According to the statement, the Swiss federal council concluded that the gravity of the current Syrian crisis and its consequences for migration makes additional urgent efforts necessary. It also called on the international community to increase humanitarian aid. 

“The Swiss finance delegation of the parliament also recognised the urgent need for the allocation of funds, approving the decision on Friday,” the embassy said.

According to a statement posted by the OSCE on its website, this year’s OSCE Mediterranean Conference will be held on the shores of the Dead Sea October 20-21. 

 

The conference will focus on “Common security in the Mediterranean region — challenges and opportunities”. 

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