I would like to thank the Jordanian presidency for convening this briefing on the situation in Syria and its neighbourhood. I also thank the briefers for their contributions.
In 2014 the number of people forcibly displaced by conflict or persecution reached the highest total recorded since World War II, a staggering 51.2 million. UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres called it a “quantum leap” in forced displacement in the world. Destitute, desperate people trying to escape extreme poverty, persecution and war pay thousands of hard earned dollars to be loaded onto cattle ships, shoddy boats and crumbling barges, only to find death in the middle of the Mediterranean. Images of capsized boats, boats abandoned midway by the traffickers have become almost daily news. Last year alone some 3500 died trying to reach the other shore.