NEW YORK – United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power spent last week in Jordan and Turkey, meeting with government officials and UN representatives to discuss the war in Syria, the Syrian refugee crisis, and developments in Iraq. It was her first visit to both countries.
While visiting Jordan last Tuesday and Wednesday, Power met with civil leaders and discussed the ongoing political and economic reforms in the country. She also met with Andrew Harper, the UN High Commission on Refugees’ representative in Jordan, and with Syrian refugees living in the kingdom.
Power wrote on Twitter about meeting a man whose wife and four out of five children were killed when a barrel bomb struck their house. He carried his surviving son, who was gravely injured, for eight months, looking for help, before arriving in Jordan.
“Scale of crisis is staggering,” Power tweeted. “600k Syrians have fled to Jordan, 1mil+ to Turkey, 1mil to Lebanon, and 6.5 million displaced inside,” adding, “among Syrian refugee population in Jordan, 90 people over 100 years old & 270 over 90 yrs old.”
Power met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Interior Minister Hussein al-Majali in Amman last Wednesday, and discussed the situation in Syria and the recent events in Iraq, as well as both countries’ counterterrorism strategies.
“Jordan continues to play a critical role in confronting extremism in the region and in responding to the Syrian crisis,” Power said.
A US spokesperson said that Ambassador Power “thanked His Majesty the King and the Jordanian people” for their efforts in working with the Syrian refugees.
Power condemned the ISIS attacks in Iraq and the kidnapping of Turkish consulate workers last Wednesday when she met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul in Ankara on Thursday.
“Together, they emphasized the importance of the Iraqi people coming together to combat extremist forces and to pursue an inclusive political process so as to secure stability, democracy, and peace in Iraq and the broader region,” the US Mission to the UN said.
Power also discussed the Syrian crisis with the Turkish leaders, and pledged continuing US support for their humanitarian efforts. Turkey hosts over one million Syria refugees.
On Friday, she visited the Nizip camp on the Turkish-Syrian border that accommodates 12,000 refugees, and tweeted about meeting children and young adults who have been forced out of school.
At a press conference in the city of Gaziantep, near the camp, Power said that stopping the atrocities of the Syrian war “is a top priority of the US government, and a consistent focus of my efforts as US Ambassador,” adding that there are millions of families like the one she met in Jordan and the children she met in Turkey.
“With these devastating experiences in mind, I have been looking at what more can be done at the [United Nations] Security Council to increase humanitarian access inside Syria,” she told reporters.
“I am not satisfied at all by what is happening on the ground in Syria and no human being can be satisfied,” she said, adding that “it is clear that more pressure needs to be put on the Assad regime if there is to be any kind of political solution,” and that “we remain in lockstep with Turkey on seeking an end to the Assad regime.”
She also noted the “alarming events in Iraq.”
“[Syrian President Bashar] Assad’s atrocities have been an effective recruiting tool,” she said. “As these terrorists are drawn to Syria, Iraq and surrounding countries, they pose a threat to the security of our allies as well as to our own country.”
When asked by a Turkish reporter whether Power discussed the kidnapped Turkish citizens with Gul and Erdogan, Power said that she was told that “Turkey is working around the clock, through all channels, to secure the release of Turkish citizens,” and that “[US] President [Barack] Obama is reviewing a whole range of options about how to deal with ISIL and its momentum in Iraq.”