Kansas Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer is accompanying GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson to refugee camps along the Jordan-Syrian border, the administration of Gov. Sam Brownback announced Saturday.
The development does not necessarily mean that Colyer is endorsing Carson for president, said Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley.
Colyer, who has worked in war zones for years, would have extended the same courtesy to other candidates, Hawley said. Colyer is to return to Kansas on Monday.
Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, has not endorsed a candidate either.
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A newcomer to elective politics, Carson may be trying to strengthen his foreign policy credentials.
“I wanted to listen firsthand to Syrians who have suffered so much from this war. We need real solutions,” Carson said in a statement released by Brownback’s office.
The trip comes just days after Brownback issued an executive order instructing Kansas agencies not to cooperate with the federal government in resettling Syrian refugees in the state.
Colyer said he first met Carson a few months ago. The two talked about Syria in September, and Carson said he wanted to see the problem firsthand. The two began planning the trip.
“The trip was kept quiet for obvious security reasons,” Colyer said. “More importantly this gave Dr. Carson the opportunity to meet Syrians firsthand and listen to their stories. The Paris attacks just reinforced how important the Syrian conflict is to the West.”
He said many organizations are trying to help injured Syrians and refugees, but they are overwhelmed. “They need more money and long-term assistance. Syrians want to go home and live in peace. Americans can help by supporting humanitarian organizations on the ground.”
The Syrian conflict has created more than 4 million refugees in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Europe. Millions more are displaced within Syria.
Said Carson: “We must end the war and prioritize helping the millions of Syrians who want to stay near their homes. The Obama/Clinton policy has failed innocent civilians. The international community must do more.”