At the occasion of the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa (WEF MENA), Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter, the Swiss Foreign Minister, paid an official visit to Jordan on 19th May 2017. Mr. Burkhalter and his Jordanian counterpart H.E. Minister Ayman Safadi met to review bilateral relations and discuss issues of common interest. The Swiss Minister expressed at this occasion his appreciation for Jordan’s contribution in welcoming Syrian refugees fleeing war. The two Ministers signed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing bilateral political and security policy consultations.
Later in the afternoon, Swiss Foreign Minister Burkhalter visited Azraq refugee camp and officially handed over a borehole and the main connecting pipelines that provide the basis for a sustainable and safe drinking water supply in the refugee camp. The project which was announced by Swiss Foreign Minister in October 2015 during his last visit to Azraq camp, was financed and supervised by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation in collaboration with UNHCR, UNICEF and the Ministry of Water and Irrigation of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The project’s cost amounted to 2.2 million Swiss Francs (1.5 million Jordanian Dinars) and will allow a reduction of running costs related to the water supply of approximately 650’000 Jordanian Dinars per year. Azraq camp currently hosts 35’500 Syrian refugees permanently.
During his visit to Azraq, the Swiss Foreign Minister also had the opportunity to observe the Jordan Civil Defense paramedic services provided to the refugee population, as two fully equipped ambulances are currently posted with trained staff at Azraq camp. The ambulances and the trainings for the paramedics were provided by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs within a wider project through which Switzerland will supply the Jordan Civil Defense with 143 ambulances until 2018.
Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter expressed his appreciation to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan for the great effort of providing safety and security to more than 650’000 Syrian refugees that have fled the ongoing violent conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic. Switzerland supports Jordan within its international cooperation program with approximately 26 million Swiss Francs (18 million Jordanian Dinars) in 2017.
In the evening at the WEF MENA on the shores of the Dead Sea, Mr. Didier Burkhalter co-hosted a “Swiss dinner” at which the role of young entrepreneurs in fostering economic prospects in the Middle East and North Africa was discussed. A special focus was laid on unemployment, viewed by young Arabs as the biggest obstacle facing the MENA region, according to the Arab Youth Survey 2017.
This regional session of the WEF is a unique opportunity to exchange with political, business and opinion leaders of the Middle East and discuss innovative solutions to the challenges it faces around the topic “Enabling a Generational Transformation”.
For more information
Mr. Terence Billeter
Deputy Head of Mission
Embassy of Switzerland
Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Phone: +962-6-593 14 16