21 January 2014

Activities of Secretary-General in Kuwait, 14-16 January

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Kuwait City from Erbil, Iraq, in the afternoon of Tuesday, 14 January, to attend the Second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria, which he was chairing the next day.

That afternoon, he met with the Deputy Foreign Minister of Iran for Arab and African countries of Iran, Hossein Amir Abdollahian.  They discussed the Syrian crisis and Iranian ideas concerning regional political initiatives that could accompany both the Geneva international conference and the negotiations between the Syrian opposition and the Syrian Government.

Later, the First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, gave the Secretary-General a tour of the facilities of the Conference, which Kuwait was hosting for the second year.  The Secretary-General and the Foreign Minister also had a working dinner that evening.

The next day, the Secretary-General met with John Kerry, the Secretary of State of the United States.  They discussed the situation in Syria and the forthcoming Geneva Conference on Syria the following week, as well as the need to increase humanitarian assistance for Syrians.  They also discussed the situation in South Sudan and in the Central African Republic.

The Secretary-General then met with the Emir of the State of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.  He thanked the Emir for his continued support and generosity in alleviating the suffering of the Syrian people.

Later that morning, the Secretary-General addressed the opening of the Second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria.  He called on the participants’ generosity and said humanitarian aid was the difference between life and death, hope and despair.  “Your pledges will help us to reach more than 10 million people inside Syria, and millions more in host communities in neighbouring countries this year,” he added.  (See Press Release SG/SM/15581.)

On the margins of the conference, he held meetings with the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Najib Mikati; the Prime Minister of Kuwait, Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah; the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Nabil Elaraby; the Minister for Planning and International Cooperation of Jordan, Ibrahim Saif; the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt, Nabil Fahmy; the Minister for Development Cooperation of Denmark, Rasmus Helveg Petersen; the Secretary of State for International Development of the United Kingdom, Justine Greening; the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis response, Kristalina Georgieva; and the President of the United Kingdom Red Cross and head of the delegation of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Sir Nicholas Young.

That afternoon, in the closing session of the Pledging Conference, the Secretary-General announced that $2.4 billion had been raised that day for relief efforts in Syria and neighbouring countries.  “Your pledges prove that the people devastated by this conflict are not forgotten.  You are also sending a strong signal to the neighbouring countries — that you appreciate their generosity, and that they will not be left to shoulder the burden alone,” he said.  (See Press Release SG/SM/15583.)

Speaking to reporters afterwards, the Secretary-General said that the United Nations would make the best use of the resources received to provide food, water, shelter, emergency treatment and other supplies and services to millions of people in need.  “The international community has responded generously at this Pledging Conference.  Now I call on all concerned to step up efforts to bring the parties together,” he added.

The following morning, Thursday, 16 January, the Secretary-General left Kuwait City to return to New York.

For information media. Not an official record.