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UN chief due in Kingdom on Thursday

By Hani Hazaimeh - Dec 04,2012 - Last updated at Dec 04,2012

AMMAN — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is due in the Kingdom on Thursday as part of a regional visit, where he is expected to discuss the Syrian refugee crisis with local officials, according to a UN statement.

Confirming the visit, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Sabah Al Rafei told The Jordan Times that Ban is scheduled to hold meetings with senior government officials and discuss the need for further international support to assist the Kingdom in enhancing the living conditions of Syrian refugees.

UNHCR Liaison Officer Ali Bibi told The Jordan Times that Ban will visit the Zaatari Refugee Camp on Friday - his first visit since the facility was set up some three months ago - where he is expected to hold a press conference.

Announcing his plans last week to visit displaced Syrians in refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan, Ban urged greater efforts to bring an end to the conflict in Syria, calling for international support for Lakhdar Brahimi, the peace envoy to Syria, in his mission.

"We can only succeed if all sides take the necessary steps, and if there are converging actions by the international community, in particular the Security Council," Ban told an informal meeting of the General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York last week, according to the statement posted on the UN website.

The UN chief also highlighted the humanitarian aspects of the crisis, describing it as "becoming more acute", with potentially up to four million people inside Syria in need of aid before the new year, the statement added.

The conflict in Syria, which began as an uprising against President Bashar Assad some 21 months ago, has led to the deaths of at least 20,000 people, mostly civilians, forced over 460,000 people to neighbouring countries, and left more than 2.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, according to UN estimates.

“The flow of refugees also continues, with ever more serious impact on regional security - we expect the total number of refugees to reach 700,000 by early next year,” the statement quoted Ban as saying.

“At the same time, the Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan is only 50 per cent funded and the Regional Response Plan is only 38 per cent funded,” he noted.

“We continue to ask urgently for additional funds and improved access to all those needing humanitarian assistance.”


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