During the “Supporting Syria and the Region Conference”

Remarks by His Majesty King Abdullah II

During the “Supporting Syria and the Region Conference”

04 February 2016

كلمة جلالة الملك عبدالله الثاني في مؤتمر المانحين - "دعم سوريا والمنطقة" | RHCJO

In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate,

Prime Minister Cameron,
Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah,
Chancellor Merkel,
Prime Minister Solberg,
Secretary General,

I’d like to thank the United Kingdom and its co-hosts – Kuwait, Germany, Norway, and of course, the United Nations – for spearheading this vital effort.

Although we meet today under the banner of ‘Supporting Syria and the Region Conference,’ I believe that this gathering is about so much more than quantifying our willingness to give.

Indeed, at this critical moment in history – when we are confronted with what is arguably the worst, most tragic humanitarian crisis of our time – this gathering is a crucial test of our resolve, resilience, resourcefulness and ability to act.

The Syrian conflict is entering a sixth brutal year. Its bloodshed and human suffering have continued unabated. The repercussions have been global. The crisis has challenged economic and political alliances, raised questions about existing structures of cooperation and strained the social values that keep humanity united.

My friends,
Traditional approaches to handling crisis simply do not work to meet this most serious of challenges. We need broader and bolder action.

Today, Jordan and its global partners are proposing a new approach – one that meets this protracted crisis with a sustainable solution. Our holistic approach talks of investment and growth, not just aid and relief. It prioritises empowerment and self-sufficiency for refugees, over a demeaning reliance on hand-outs. It brings us together as partners – countries, regions, the private sector, international financial institutions – to build a new model for effective, sustainable action.

Out of all the countries in the world that need help, why give special attention to Jordan?

Because Jordan is not a poor country that takes, it is a country that gives, and gives abundantly. Imagine the impact had Jordan been different. Had we not let in refugees into our country over the past decades? What would the impact on the region and world peace and security have been now?

Today, one of every five people living in our Kingdom is a Syrian refugee. It is as if the UK had to absorb the entire population of Belgium. Hosting Syrian refugees consumes more than one quarter of Jordan’s national budget. The US and EU, whose combined economies are almost a thousand times bigger than Jordan’s, are struggling to handle about one million refugees: our small country, alone, has taken in almost 1.3 million already. And this is in addition to all the others whom Jordan shelters from the Gulf wars, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Libya, Yemen as well as Christian minorities fleeing persecution.

Jordan was hit with the first wave of Syrian refugees soon after the devastating impact of global financial crisis and the turmoil of the region’s Arab spring. In challenging times, my country did the right thing, as it has so often before.

Our generosity is driven by Jordanian values, and sustained by the national resilience that has kept our country secure. This resilience is what has enabled Jordan to respond when we saw our neighbours in need and answer the call of the international community. Jordan has joined nations much larger and richer than we are in global peacekeeping and humanitarian missions.

I would wager that no other developing nation has contributed more to global security than Jordan. Our fight against terrorism began way before September 11th and continues vigorously today. Our contribution and adherence to peace and moderation have been steadfast and unwavering. Our determination to continue our economic and political reforms at home is equally strong. We are firm believers in the importance of strengthening and expanding our private sector. By supporting entrepreneurship and investment, we will be able to unlock a future of opportunity for our population. We are not perfect and do not claim to be. But we are doing our best against very difficult odds.

Yet, looking today into the eyes of my people and seeing the hardship and distress they carry, I must tell you: we have reached our limits. I represent the people of Jordan. Their well-being and safety are my first priority. Our country will continue to do what we can to help those in need, but it cannot be at the expense of our own people’s welfare.

As my friend President Clinton said, “Jordan should not be penalised for doing the right thing.” Now is the time for the world to take a meaningful stand on Jordan. Not just enough aid to keep our heads barely above water.

By partnering with Jordan and supporting our refugee response, you will not only be addressing the urgent needs of millions. You will be helping my country continue to do the right thing, fulfilling a critical role in our region and staying strong for the world. This is an investment in hope creation, in an area where hope has been in limited supply. This is where we can take a political stance for the stability of the region, and show our will and ability to act as one.

Thank you.