Turkey urges humanitarian corridor in Syria

Turkey has spent more than all European Union countries combined in assisting the Syrian refugees, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee reproachfully in mid-February.

Turkey urges humanitarian corridor in Syria

World Bulletin/News Desk

In order to find a solution to the number of Syrian refugees fleeing their war-battered country to neighboring states, the creation of a humanitarian corridor in Syria that would allow for the delivery of aid inside of the country is necessary, Turkey officials reiterated at a recent meeting on the issue.

In a meeting organized by the Journalists and Writers Foundation's (GYV) Women's Platform in Ankara on Turkey's policy on refugees and asylum seekers, Esen Altug, deputy director-general for immigration, asylum and visas at the Foreign Ministry, stated that Turkey expects the West to be sensitive to the situation of Syrian refugees.

She said the amount of incoming international aid for the refugees is not sufficient.

Currently, Turkey is hosting 200,000 refugees in the established camps, and there are an additional 200,000 staying in various Turkish provinces.

Outside Turkey, there are also significant numbers of refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. UN authorities estimate the number of refugees in each hosting country could hit 1 million in the near future.

“Urgent aid needs to be sent to Syria and the way to do that is to open a humanitarian corridor in the country. This is an obligation [of the international community] for the influx [of refugees] to cease,” Altug noted during the conference.

The total amount of foreign financial aid -- in kind and in cash – Turkey has received for the Syrian refugees so far has amounted to roughly $92 million according to data from the Foreign Ministry; however, as of the beginning of the month, the country had spent more than $600 million to meet the humanitarian needs of the refugees. A large portion of the funds Turkey received -- $50 million -- was donated by Saudi Arabia in February.

Turkey has spent more than all European Union countries combined on assisting the Syrian refugees, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said reproachfully before a meeting of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee in Ankara in mid-February.

Altug reiterated that Antonio Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), congratulated Turkey during a visit to the refugee camps in mid-March, for being “exemplary” in dealing with the problems of Syrian refugees.

The conference was held in order to come up with a solution to the current crisis of a refugee influx in Turkey, discussing the issue from the perspective of the government, civil society and international organizations, GYV Chairman Mustafa Yesil noted at the beginning of the conference. Yesil stated that the GYV had started to prepare for this conference one year before.

 International relations and international law professors as well as civil society representatives and government officials were among the speakers at the conference.

Immigration, Refugee Policies

Altug mentioned that Turkey will continue with its open door policy for Syrian refugees, also stating that Turkey is bound by the principles of non-refoulement -- not sending back any refugees -- and providing shelter for those who have fled.

Turkey, in addition to providing shelter for the refugees, is also providing health and education services in the camps.

Although Turkey says that it would not return any of the people from Syria and implements an open door policy, the Syrian people in Turkey do not have official refugee status according to the principles of international law in Turkey.

Turkey is a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, but it has also adopted the New York Protocol with a geographical limitation that only offers refugee status to persons coming from Europe.

According to that principle, the Syrian refugees staying in Turkey are currently defined as those under “temporary protection.”

However, adopting Law No. 6458 titled Foreigners and International Protection this month, Turkey has made good progress on the legal status of foreigners coming to the country. The law is the first one Turkey has adopted on immigration.

Carol Batchelor, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative in Turkey, welcomed the new adopted law when speaking during the conference. “Turkey took this historic decision in adopting this law, despite all the real challenges it currently faces due to the Syrian crisis. This would codify the conditions of hospitality and an international framework for the Syrian refugees,” Batchelor stated.

As of the 2000s, Turkey has changed from being an emigrant country to a destination for immigrants. Many Turkish citizens have migrated to economically better-off countries, like the US, Canada and Australia. Also, a significant number of Turks also started to go to European countries, such as Germany, Holland and Belgium, as laborers in the 1960s.

However, during the last decade, Turkey has been receiving immigrants from Middle Eastern, African and South Asian countries, which has obliged the country to adopt more regulations in dealing with refugees and immigrants.

Last Mod: 26 Nisan 2013, 10:18
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