Carson’s campaign officials confirmed the former surgeon flew to the Middle East on Friday as part of a “fact finding and information gathering mission.” Carson has arranged to visit Azraq refugee camp among the desert dunes of northeast Jordan.
“I find when you have firsthand knowledge of things as opposed to secondhand, it makes a much stronger impression,” Carson told the New York Times prior to his departure.
“I want to hear some of their stories, I want to hear from some of the officials what their perspective is,” Carson added. “All of that is extraordinarily useful in terms of formulating an opinion of how to actually solve the problem.”
Carson has been criticized by pundits and fellow politicians for his apparent lack of foreign policy knowledge. He has appeared unprepared in a number of interviews, stumped by questions about the ongoing crisis in the Middle East.
The one-time leader in the GOP primary polls said he is on a learning curve, and admitted his recent foreign policy stumbles have contributed to his drop in the polls.Ted Cruz has pulled into second behind frontrunner Donald Trump.
Guarding against too much media coverage, campaign officials decided not to announce Carson’s trip ahead of time. Photos from the visit will be available on Saturday.
More than half a million refugees reside in Jordan. The country’s Za’atari camp, the largest refugee camp in the Middle East, housed some 81,000 Syrians as of July 2015.
The Azraq refugee camp Carson is visiting, which was built with millions of dollars from the United Nations, came under scrutiny this summer when it was found to be largely deserted. Many of the camps were left unfilled as Jordan, fearing the arrival of Islamic State soldiers, slowed the amount of refugees being allowed across the border.
By Brooks Hays