Economic and Social Council Humanitarian Affairs Segment
Mr. President, Excellencies,
Humanitarian emergencies continue to present increasingly complex challenges. The protracted and recurrent nature of crises, levels of unprecedented displacement, changing nature of conflicts, terrorism, intensity of disasters and the negative effects of climate change and weather patterns produce devastating results and consequences for human lives.
Displacement of over 65 million people worldwide is a stark reality, especially for those who left their homes and those who are hosting them. As we speak, Turkey is sheltering close to 3.3 million Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans who fled the violence. From the onset of the current wave of displacement, we have called for greater global responsibility sharing.
We all know that, for some time, the existing international humanitarian system has been unable to respond to the 130 million people affected by emergencies. This demonstrated the need for strengthened humanitarian action and adopting new ways of working together to achieve the promise of leaving no one behind.
The international community’s commitments made through the Sendai Framework, 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the World Humanitarian Summit and the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants provide major opportunities for the UN, member states and other stakeholders to reinforce their existing response capacities and build new and effective partnerships. For the humanitarian domain, the Istanbul Summit led a transformative change in the global humanitarian system that should serve the people in need in a better way.
Today, the ongoing famine and food insecurity crisis in various countries in Sub-Saharan Africa is extremely worrying and require urgent attention. With its development-oriented humanitarian policy, Turkey is doing its utmost to provide food and water assistance to the affected countries, including Somalia and Yemen. Within the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Turkey led a field visit to the region in early June to raise awareness among the OIC members for durable solutions in the region.
We believe that breaking the vicious cycle of famine requires the prevention of conflicts that may cause the famine. It also requires more support for efforts to shore up resilience and reduce needs over time. Humanitarians and development partners have to work for collective outcomes that reduce vulnerability and lower the risk of new crises in the future.
The humanitarian tragedy in Syria entered its 7th year with over 13.5 million Syrians in need of humanitarian assistance and with 4.8 million Syrians forced to live out of their homeland. In addition to our ongoing efforts for a political solution to the conflict in Syria, we maintained an “open door” policy, in line with the international law towards Syrians who sought shelter in Turkey.
Today, for 3 million Syrians who are under “temporary protection”, we have been carrying out a comprehensive approach in assisting their immediate humanitarian needs as well as their livelihoods. We provided free health care for Syrians in Turkey and enabled emergency evacuations from the zero-point of the border due to persistent attacks on medical facilities inside Syria. Recognizing the value of education in emergencies, we have increased the enrollment rate of school age Syrians in Turkey to 60% – a total of 508.000 pupils. We have also issued working permits to around 20 thousand Syrians. Through the cross-border assistance, we helped the UN to send close to 12.000 trucks of humanitarian goods to communities in need.
Our efforts for Iraqis who were affected by the scourge of terrorism also continued since summer 2014, through either hosting the displaced in Turkey or assisting the efforts of the UN and local authorities within Iraq. As we said repeatedly, proximity should not entail responsibility and our efforts require greater support and solidarity from the international community. Moreover, we are supporting the vital role that UNRWA plays for the well-being of millions of Palestinian refugees and call for greater financial assistance to the agency.
The ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment (HAS) offers the states and other members of the humanitarian community a valuable opportunity to discuss emerging and pressing humanitarian issues. Since last year’s session, the Segment also allows the participants to share their assessments about the transformations and initiatives that emerged from the Istanbul Summit.
For the first time in the 72 year history of the United Nations, at the World Humanitarian Summit, member states, people affected by crises, humanitarian and development organizations, and leaders from civil society and the business community, came together to discuss solutions to shared challenges. Istanbul Summit was a historic event with a record level participation. It generated 3000 commitments, propelled the Agenda for Humanity and a strong momentum for change.
Among the major transformations, complementing humanitarian action with crisis preventive measures, upholding humanitarian principles, importance of development-oriented humanitarian assistance to address recurrent and protracted crises, ensuring predictable, reliable and sustainable humanitarian financing and fair responsibility-sharing in helping refugees, are notable.
Turkey has advocated that the Istanbul Summit should not be a one-time event but entail a process with a defined follow-up. Hence we submitted our first national report on the progress for our commitments and we urge all stakeholders to use the “Platform for Action, Commitments and Transformation” to do the same.
Moreover, on 18-19 May 2017, Turkey also hosted the Advancing the New Way of Working (NWOW) Workshop in Istanbul to mark the WHS anniversary, with the representatives of donor countries, international organizations such as the World Bank, OECD and OIC, various UN agencies and NGOs.
The priorities of the NWOW align with Turkey’s development oriented humanitarian assistance policy We support the NWOW initiative and we are pleased that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres places it high up in his management reform agenda.
To save lives today and to achieve the SDGs, we call upon humanitarian and development actors to operationalize this platform to better deliver help to those in need.
Combining development and humanitarian assistance help the affected countries to better increase their resilience while contributing to their efforts of sustainable development.
One thing should be clarified: combining humanitarian and development assistance should not be carried out at the expense of one another. In other words, combining them does not aim to reduce the financing of none of them in respect of the recipient.
Lastly, Turkey will also continue to support the outcomes of the New York Declaration and contribute to the development of two global compacts, for migrants and refugees.
In conclusion, needs of millions suffering from humanitarian emergencies require constant attention and action on our commitments. We expect all stakeholders to contribute to our common humanity with a shared understanding on responsibility and humanitarianism. Turkey will work in partnership with all stakeholders to further the momentum of the Istanbul Summit for the improvement of the global humanitarian system.
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