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MOS Costello makes visit to Syrian refugee camp

Emergencies, News/feature, Syria, 2012

The Minister of State for Trade and Development, Joe Costello T.D., is travelling to Jordan on Sunday in order to assess at first hand the humanitarian consequences of the Syrian conflict and its wider impact on the region.

On Monday 27 August, he will travel to northern Jordan, near the border with Syria, to visit the Za’atri refugee camp. This refugee camp was built in July to accommodate the thousands of refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria.  It now provides shelter to more than 7,000 refugees, primarily women and children.

Conditions in the camp are tough; it is located in a harsh desert environment with strong, dust- laden winds and temperatures reaching 45 degrees Celsius.  Refugees continue to arrive in their hundreds every day as a result of the escalating violence that has now spread across most parts of the Syria, particularly in the populated towns and villages.  Speaking  before his departure the Minister said:

“Over 202,000 refugees have fled Syria and an additional 1.2 million are internally-displaced.  The purpose of my visit is to assess the humanitarian situation and needs on the ground and to demonstrate Ireland’s solidarity with those most affected by the devastating conflict in Syria.

I have already approved the provision of €500,000 in Irish Aid funding for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and the UN World Food Programme (WFP).   This funding is being used to provide immediate relief within Syria and to assist those forced to flee. 

Given the intensification of the refugee crisis, I will be meeting with the UN Aid Agency coordinators, with the Red Cross/Crescent, and senior representatives of the Jordanian Government as well as other partners on the ground to identify further ways to help.  

Humanitarian access and the security of aid workers is a serious concern.  All parties to the conflict must fully respect international humanitarian law and ensure that humanitarian organisations agencies are granted immediate and safe access to those most in need.”

Ireland is working at EU and international level to help find a sustainable solution to the crisis and especially to find ways to assist Syrian civilians most impacted by the violence.  This has included representation at the ‘Friends of Syria’ conference and subsequent meetings of the ‘Humanitarian Forum on Syria’.  Ireland supports the full and immediate implementation of the UN’s six-point peace plan.