Kawrgosik Camp, Iraq

14 January 2014

Full transcript of Secretary-General's press conference at at Kawrgosik refugee camp

I stand here humbled by what I have seen in this Kawrgosik refugee camp. I am particularly saddened to see so many young children and women and vulnerable groups of people who suffer from this man-made tragedy.

I am here to send our strong solidarity and support to all the refugees who came from Syria, on behalf of the United Nations and the international community. I am very happy to be joined by our distinguished High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr. Antonio Guterres, and also Ms. Valerie Amos who is the head of humanitarian [affairs] and Emergency Relief Coordinator. We are also here to listen to the concerns and aspirations of all the refugees here.

What I have seen is heartbreaking. I have just met with a family in a refugee tent who have two young girls. I was very much saddened by their suffering. Families shared their struggles to survive, find their loved ones and cope with the sadness of those who have been lost. These families, they really wanted to have a better future –but they are now living in fear and uncertainty for their future.

I would like to most sincerely thank the Kurdistan Regional Government for its very kind generosity in hosting more than 200,000 refugees from Syria. The Kurdistan Regional Government has established many refugee camps and transit sites and established a humanitarian corridor to north-east Syria. I highly commend such commitment to humanitarian principles.

I also highly commend the governor, mayors and many local officials, NGOs, humanitarian workers who have been working under very difficult conditions to help refugees.

Wherever they come from, whatever their situations, their suffering means injustice [inaudible]. They need peace and dignity and justice.

That is why I and our Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi are working very hard with international partners to bring peace through negotiations. The international community should support these refugees until they are able to return to their homes. That is why from here I am going to Kuwait to convene a humanitarian assistance conference tomorrow. We will try to mobilize all the necessary humanitarian assistance for these people – tents, water, sanitation, education – and all that they need, we will provide. I am also concerned about this cold weather so we will try to provide winterization assistance.

Next week, in Geneva, I am going to convene an international peace conference for Syria. I sincerely hope that with the solidarity of the international community and strong support for a Syrian-led peace process, these refugees will be able to return to their homes with hope and dignity. Until then, the UN will lead this campaign of humanitarian assistance and peace process will all of you.

I will have meeting with President Barzani and I met Prime Minsiter Barzani and we will discuss this matter. Yesterday, I was in Baghdad and we had a good meeting with Prime Minister al-Maliki. So count on the United Nations.

I wish you continued happiness, prosperity and success.

Q: [on UN efforts to end Syrian crisis; question on human rights in Iraq]

SG: First of all, I am also very sad that this violence has been continuing for three years. More than 100,000 people have been killed and half of the population has been affected. This has caused a humanitarian crisis and political crisis not only for the Syrian people but also for the world. Why we have not been able to put an end to this crisis? Because first of all the Syrian people, they have been divided and they have been fighting and they must stop. There is no military solution. That is why under the United Nations’ auspices, next week, we are going to have the Geneva II peace conference. We will try to agree to implement the Geneva I joint communiqué which was adopted June 30th, 2012. That is most important; that is our primary goal. I urge the parties to this violence to stop the violence so that we can deliver humanitarian assistance and so that we can talk about peace.

Q: [on participation at Geneva II]

SG: I have issued invitations to all the participants including the two parties of Syria -- the Syrian Government and opposition parties. The Syrian Government has confirmed they will participate. The Syrian National Coalition, led by Mr. Ahmad Jarba – I hope he will participate. There are about 30 countries, including permanent members of the Security Council, that will participate. Iran’s participation is still being discussed and my position as Secretary-General has been consistently clear that Iran should participate but for this consensus on this matter I am still working. Even yesterday, I was discussing this matter with Lakhdar Brahimi and I will also talk with other key leaders.

Q: [on refugees from Anbar province and whether the SG would visit them]

SG: This time, I have to go to Kuwait right after this. From Erbil, I have to go to Kuwait to preside over this humanitarian conference, so I won’t be able to have such an opportunity. But in my meeting yesterday with Prime Minister al-Maliki, I expressed my serious concerns about the security situation in Anbar Governorate. Thank you.