home contact sitemap
background research material related activities keeping up-to-date
Home  >>  Documents >> RWG Gavel's Mission to Jordan  
Research Material
Research Projects
Research Papers
Videos and Documentaries
Internet Resources

RWG Gavel's Mission to Jordan

Notes for Gavel's Press Conference

14 May 1996

As the Gavel-Holder of the Refugee Working Group in the Multilateral Peace Process, I have been here in Jordan to lead a delegation of members of the Working Group.

This mission was mandated by the last session of the Refugee Working Group, to visit camps in Jordan and to meet with the Jordanian government to identify needs and explore prospects for RWG actions. We will report back to the next plenary meeting of the Refugee Working Group, later this year.

This is the second such mission to Jordan. My predecessor as Gavel led a similar mission to the camps in Jordan in 1994.

The members of the mission represent some of the 41 countries and delegations participating in the work of the Refugee Working Group. Besides Canada, the countries participating in this mission have been The European Union, Japan, Morocco, Switzerland and the USA.

In the RWG our mandate is:

  • to improve the present conditions of refugees and displaced persons without prejudicing their rights or their future status,
  • to facilitate access to family reunification, and,
  • to contribute to the process of finding a lasting solution to the refugee problem

The Refugee Working Group has had eight plenary meetings in which it has focussed on seven themes: economic and social infrastructure, human resources development, job creation and vocational training, public health, family reunification, data bases and child welfare. The group has served as a focus for projects and activities dedicated to improving the current humanitarian conditions of refugees, without prejudicing their future status, and to supporting the framework of negotiations. More than $130 million in projects have been committed through or announced at RWG plenary sessions. Here in Jordan there have been many projects implemented by UNRWA, including schools, medical centres and women's activity centres. There have also been projects in the field of data bases and support for NGO and other activities. While in the camps we were taken to see some of the new facilities contributed by donors in support of the work of the RWG.

This mission reflects the importance the international community attaches to dialogue and transparency. We have wanted to hear the views of the Refugees, and for our part to assure them that there are no secret plans in the multilaterals.

We came to hear the points of view of the camp residents and of the Jordanian government as to what the RWG should be doing inrespect of the Palestinian refugee population in Jordan, both about the present humanitarian situation and about the future. This is particularly timely in the context of the opening of the permanent status talks between the PLO and Israel. In the RWG we have been conscious that the role of the multilateral process is to complement and support the bilateral negotiations, not substitute for them.

From the Palestinian refugees we heard repeated strong affirmation of their commitment to the principle of the right of return. At the same time I think members of the mission were struck by the emphasis throughout on the attachment of the Palestinians to peace, and to the achievement of their goals by peaceful means. The refugees also expressed their appreciation to His Majesty King Hussein and the government of Jordan for the constant support and care shown for their situation here in Jordan.

The refugees told us about their support for UNRWA and stressed the importance of the continuation of the UNRWA services until there is a permanent solution. At the same time they underlined their continuing needs in a variety of areas, education, health, housing sanitation and camp infrastructure. The members of the delegation were struck by the deficiencies in some of these areas in some camps.

Another important part of the mission was our dialogue with the Jordanian government about the future. We met with the Crown Prince, and with various government officials. From the Jordanian side we heard about the magnitude of the services which the Jordanian government is providing to the refugees in Jordan, which is in the range of $300 million per year. Jordanian spokespersons also underlined Jordan's commitment to equal treatment of all Jordanians, and the determination that the refugee issue be dealt with in a comprehensive perspective. We were told of the importance Jordan attaches to the RWG in connection with solving the human dimension of the question in accordance with article 8 of the Jordan Israel peace treaty.

We also had good meetings with UNRWA, who briefed us about the camps in Jordan and the services provided, and the problems faced by UNRWA in maintaining the level of services given the growing population.

The mission will be preparing a report for submission to the next plenary meeting of the RWG, which will be held later this year.

En français

previous top next
  Copyright © 2008 PRRN home   contact us   sitemap