Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
Zaatari Refugee Camp, Jordan
November 19, 2021
Thank you very much, Dominik. And thank you and UNHCR, for organizing this amazing tour for me to see the extraordinary work that all of you are doing here. I also want to thank the Syrian Refugee Affairs Directorate also for participating in today’s events for me.
I am really so appreciative of UNHCR, of UNICEF, UNFPA, WFP, and all of our humanitarian partners for showing us what they are doing to ensure that refugees live in dignity and receive a quality education as long as they are unable to return home safely.
And I also want to take this moment just to thank the refugees themselves, who have allowed us to intrude on their privacy, intrude in their homes, to hear their stories and to share with us their hopes and dreams of their future. I visited the home of Nadia today, who made this beautiful scarf for me in which she engraved my name. And I was struck by her strength, her courage, her fortitude in building a life for her family here in this refugee camp.
We appreciate the Jordanians’ enormous generosity in hosting such a large Syrian refugee population, as well as refugees from other regional conflicts. The commitment Jordan has shown here, providing safe shelter for their neighbors for many years, is truly an example to the world.
During my visit today, I heard directly from refugees about their heartbreaking experiences fleeing the Assad regime and their resilience as they forged new livelihoods for themselves and for their families. And while we know the ultimate goal is for refugees to return home – and I know that that is their ultimate goal – what I heard today is that people remain fearful about the conditions in Syria and that they are not ready to return. It is indisputable that the current environment is not conducive to return.
My major takeaway from this visit is that the international community must be vigilant in ensuring that any refugee returns are safe, and voluntary, and dignified. After ten years of war, we know that hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees is no easy task.
But we must remember, every day, that they are real people – they are mothers, they are fathers, they are children, they are families – and they need our support. That is why the United States remains the largest donor to the Syrian refugee response, and I will use my platform at the United Nations to encourage others to contribute to this cause. Rest assured that the United States continues to stand with Jordan and other host countries to ensure the protection of vulnerable refugees, and we stand with the refugees as they forge a life for their families here in Jordan.
Thank you very much.