World must maintain focus on Syria, Palestine refugees despite Ukraine war — Norway FM

Key areas of support to Jordan remain education, employment

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi (right) meets his Norwegian counterpart Anniken Huitfeldt in Jordan on August 29, 2022. (Photo: Twitter)
AMMAN — Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt on Tuesday highlighted the importance of maintaining “political attention towards the refugees, and continue to work for political solutions to the conflict in Syria and Israel-Palestine, despite the attention directed towards Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine.”اضافة اعلان

Huitfeldt visited Jordan on Monday and met with His Majesty King Abdullah and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi to discuss bolstering cooperation on various fronts, including investments, renewable energy, and climate change. She also visited Al-Baqaa refugee camp and addressed the need to reach a political solution for the Syrian Refugee crisis and other regional and international issues.

“I visited a Syrian refugee camp nine years ago, and in those days, I don’t think any of us expected the refugee situation to last that long,” Huitfeldt said, according to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement.

On August 23, the UNHCR warned that Jordan could face a resurging humanitarian crisis, citing a $34 million deficit for life-saving health and cash programs for 2022. Meanwhile, statements by UNRWA in July announced that this year’s budget is expected to face a shortfall of nearly $100 million.

“Norway is a major donor both to UNRWA and the (response to the) Syria crisis. One of my key messages during this visit to Jordan, is that you can trust our continued financial support to both host communities and refugees,” she told Jordan News.

Foreign Minister of Norway Anniken Huitfeldt meets a refugee family in Jordan on August 29, 2022. (Photos: Flickr)

“Increased food security and combatting hunger remain priorities for Norwegian humanitarian efforts. We will therefore increase our support to World Food Program’s (WFP) cash assistance to vulnerable refugees for this year,” she said.

In December 2021, Norway entered a four-year agreement with WFP to provide $161 million in total funding, coming to around $40 million annually in core funding, according to a press statement.

In February, Huitfeldt also announced Norway’s pledge to donate $124 million as part of a four-year funding agreement with UNRWA.

During her meeting with Safadi, Huitfeldt addressed the impact of the Ukrainian crisis on global food security, noting that although attention is drawn to the situation of Ukraine, Norway continues to support Jordan and refugee host communities.

Alongside relief prospects, Huitfeldt also emphasized the importance of Jordan’s role in promoting regional stability and dialogue. “Jordan plays a key role in promoting peace and stability in the region and maintains good relations with its neighbors. Jordan’s efforts in promoting regional economic integration are a good example of this.”

Palestinian-Israeli peace process

Norway has long been a broker of Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations. During the meeting with Safadi, she said “we discussed the need to reach a two-state solution to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”

Safadi said that Jordan and Norway see eye to eye on the danger of the absence of political prospects for resolving the conflict, adding that he had explained to his Norwegian counterpart Jordan’s efforts to reinvigorate “serious and effective” negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis that would breathe life into the two-state solution.

Former prime minister of Israel Naftali Bennett has reiterated that there will be no political peace process. Since Yair Lapid has taken over as caretaker prime minister — awaiting elections in November — he has vocalized support for the two-state solution in a meeting with Biden in July but has remained ambiguous on his position on the resumption of peace talks.

In light of the stalled political dialogues, Huitfeldt said, “I am deeply troubled by the recurring violence and lack of a political horizon. We believe that the two-state solution is the only path towards stability and peace for both Israelis and Palestinians.”

On August 5–7, Israel launched deadly attacks on the Gaza Strip, killing 44 people, including 15 children, and injuring 360 others.

On August 18, Israeli forces raided the offices of seven human rights organizations, claiming that they have links with terrorism — a claim both the organizations and their European donor states have rejected.

Many have criticized European countries for double standards in relation to reactions to enforcing human rights, especially in terms of Palestinian resistance and Israel’s violations of human rights conventions.

In response, the Norwegian foreign minister said: “Norway has consistently expressed our strong concern about the Israeli settlements, against aggression towards civilians, and labeling civil society organizations as terrorist organizations. As an elected member of the Security Council, respect for international law is a corner-stone in our work in the council.”

Future collaborations
According to a Foreign Ministry statement, Huitfeldt and Safadi’s meeting discussed ways to advance economic, trade, tourism, environmental protection, and food security-related partnerships in the Kingdom, alongside defense cooperation and counter-terrorism efforts.

“Norway’s key areas of support to Jordan continue to be education and employment — crucial sectors for resilience and economic growth,” Huitfeldt told Jordan News. “We support the implementation of the government’s economic reform agenda through different programs.”

One such program is the Sahara Forest Project, which seeks to combat desertification, and produce food, fresh water, biomass, and clean energy in Aqaba’s desert.

“Our focus on climate change and sustainable environment is increasing,” she said. “Sahara Forest Project is an excellent example of a project that combines different existing environmental technologies in new ways.”

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