Türkİye, Europe

Turkey’s refugee commitment ‘a lesson’ for Europe

CEO of UK-based think tank Legatum Institute praises Turkey's hospitality for Syrian refugees

Ahmet Gürhan Kartal   | 02.05.2019
Turkey’s refugee commitment ‘a lesson’ for Europe A tent camp, built by Prime Minister's Disaster and Emergency Management in Suruc district of Sanliurfa, Turkey on January 9, 2018. ( Rauf Maltaş - Anadolu Agency )


Turkey’s strategy in dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis is an example for Europe, head of a London-based think tank said on Thursday. 

Philippa Stroud, chief executive officer (CEO) of Legatum Institute, praised Turkey’s approach toward Syrian refugees in an article in The Times.

“I have just returned from the Turkey-Syria border to witness the international community’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis, spearheaded by the International Organization for Migration (IoM),” Stroud said.

Underlining that the civil war in Syria has “claimed approximately 400,000 lives, with many millions of people displaced during and after the fighting,” Stroud wrote that “over half of the 20 million population require humanitarian aid, including 5 million who are acutely in need.”

“An astonishing 5.7 million Syrians have fled their country to neighbouring nations, mostly to Turkey which is demonstrating extraordinary hospitality to about 3.5 million Syrian refugees, even building permanent homes for them,” she said.

Stroud said that the IoM team had two roles.

“First, to ensure that the 3.5 million refugees who have made it across the border into Turkey over the last 7 years are provided for and properly integrated,” she wrote.

Comparing Turkey’s efforts with the U.K.’s, she said “the UK is only committed to taking 0.6 per cent of this total, yet consider the controversy around this tiny number and you can begin to appreciate the challenge of integrating millions of people.”

Stroud said the second role of the IoM was “to care for and provide emergency help to those who are internally displaced within Syria.”

“This is the more pressing of the challenges, with over 6 million displaced people within Syria, and the key concern is for Idlib and the potential further displacement of another million refugees in the event of renewed bombing,” she added.

- Huge resettlement

Stroud said the “international aid committed to Turkey to alleviate the refugee crisis has also enabled this huge resettlement of Syrians.”

Underlining that the U.K. has committed £2.8 billion ($3.7 billion) for Syria and the region since 2012, including allocations to United Nations agencies, she said the UN has a consolidated appeal target of $9 billion for the Syria crisis.

“Driving from the airport at Gaziantep to the IoM headquarters which is close to the Syrian border, we passed building site after building site, new home after new home, and new apartment block after apartment block,” Stroud said.

She added that she was “told that 95 per cent of the refugees have been housed in permanent accommodation.”

Stroud said: “Whatever is driving Turkey’s hospitality, it is unquestionably an act of generosity — and in Europe we need to look and learn what it means to care for our neighbours.

“The IoM are conducting an interesting analysis of the pull and push factors for refugees. By far the largest number of refugees have no desire whatsoever to leave the area, and if they do it is only to go as far as Turkey.”

Stroud wrote that “Turkey has begun to point the way for addressing the global refugee crisis by providing a model for a regional solution to a regional problem”.

She said: “Turkey is providing a home for many refugees, when we won’t, and is still working with the EU and international community.”

“Whilst this is complex, it should also be applauded,” she added.

“Turkey’s commitment to the refugees is a lesson for us all. Instead of pushing them as a nation away, we should stand by them at this time.”

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