MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS The Hon Julie Bishop MP
FOREIGN MINISTER’S VISIT TO JORDAN AND LEBANON
(Translation of this article appears in Arabic section)
In my first visit to Jordan and Lebanon as Foreign Minister I have highlighted Australia’s strong and continuing support for Jordan and Lebanon as they address the challenges caused by Syria’s tragic and continuing humanitarian crisis.
Jordan is host to over half a million Syrian refugees and I was provided with first hand stories into the ongoing crisis during a visit to a UNHCR refugee registration centre, which receives thousands of refugees on a daily basis.
In Lebanon, where over one million registered Syrian refugees make up one fifth of the country’s total population, I met with UNHCR and UNICEF to discuss Australian support for those affected by the Syrian crisis.
During the visit I announced $20 million in funding from the Australian Government to be provided to the United Nations’ ‘No Lost Generation’ initiative to help build better futures for these children by improving their education and addressing the violence and displacement they have faced. [Press release 21 April 2014]
In Jordan I met His Majesty King Abdullah, Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour, Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh and the Director of the General Intelligence Department, General Faisal Al Shoubaki.
We discussed Australia’s close work with Jordan on the UN Security Council, including to address the humanitarian crisis in Syria. We also discussed developments in the Middle East Peace Process, in which Jordan plays a key supporting role.
In Lebanon, where I welcomed the formation of a new Lebanese Government in February, I met President Michel Sleiman, Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Tammam Salam and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil.
Australia has a strong and established relationship with Lebanon, underpinned by close community ties with 400,000 Australians of Lebanese descent. I reaffirmed to the new Government Australia’s close cooperation with Lebanese authorities in countering people smuggling, as well as our cooperation on law enforcement and counter-terrorism, which remain of concern to both countries.