Prince William Meets Syrian Refugees

Prince William met with a group of Syrian refugees while visiting Jordan’s archaeological site of Jerash on Monday.

Accompanied by Jordan’s Crown Prince al-Hussein bin Abdullah, William took a tour of the Roman site, located around 48 kilometres north of Amman.

He then met with a group of Jordanian and Syrian refugee children who attend a Makani centre, a programme supported by the UNICEF that provides educational services and psycho-social support.

Gathered in Jerash’s Roman theatre, some children performed traditional Jordanian chants while others showcased their paintings.

William also talked with Syrian refugee women, including mothers of children taking part in the event.

“They talked about the services that they get in Makani, what they need in their communities and what the challenges facing them are,” said Ettie Higgins, UNICEF’s deputy representative in Jordan.

“Some of the challenges they mentioned included them not knowing when they will go back and the economic conditions,” Higgins told dpa.

Last month, UNICEF and other UN agencies said they might have to reduce support programmes they provide to Syrian refugees and host countries in the region after receiving only around 20 percent of the funding needed.

Jordan officially hosts around 650,000 refugees from Syria, 330,000 of them are children. However, estimates that include unregistered refugees suggest the total could be as high as 1.2 million.

Halima Abdel Karim, 38, is one of the refugees who talked to Prince William. She came from southern Jordan in January 2013 and now lives in Irbid city, in northern Jordan, with her husband and three children.

“He asked us about how we were received here, how was my life in Syria and if the children are getting education here,” said Abdel Karim, who works as a baker.

Ahmed, one of the Syrian children taking part in the event, was hoping to get a selfie with William.

“I came here to try and take a selfie with the prince,” he said.

He has been in Jordan for six years, after leaving the southern Syrian city of Deraa with his family.

The duke of Cambridge arrived in the kingdom on Sunday for a five-day Middle East visit that will also take him to Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

In Jordan, he will meet British forces based in the kingdom as well as young Jordanian and Syrian refugee students undergoing training in media, film and animation production.

Later on Monday, William will travel on to Israel and the Palestinian Territories, marking the first official visit to the Palestinian Territories by a British royal on behalf of the government.

He is scheduled to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Although a spokesman said William’s visit is non-political and will focus particularly on culture and youth aspirations, the trip comes at a time of heightened tensions in the region.

In May, the U. S. moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a city contested by both the Israelis and the Palestinians, and dozens of Palestinians have died from Israeli gunfire during protests against the move.

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