General Debate Statement on 66th Session of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme

Mehmet Ferden ÇARIKÇI 05.10.2015

Mr. Chairperson,

Mr. High Commissioner,

Let’s face it: The international aid system is failing to provide protection and is unable to give hope to the millions displaced.

We had and will have many opportunities in 2015
-16 to discuss how to reform the aid system.

The Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and the UN Summit for the Adoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda were important milestones in drawing the agendas in their respective areas until 2030.

In December, Geneva will host the 32nd Red Cross Red Crescent Conference. Then next year, in May, we will host the first ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.

We really hope that in next year’s Executive Committee, we will be able to discuss solutions and actions, not only the problems. If we cannot start discussing the way forward, we will have no excuse.

And today, Mr. High Commissioner, you have once again shown us the way.

Mr. Chairperson,

I would like to express our gratitude to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees,
for all his dedicated so far and for choosing “root causes” as the theme of this year’s dialogue. Displacement cannot be stopped without ending the conflicts causing it.

We know that it is not up to the humanitarians to find solutions to political problems. With the same understanding, we should continue refraining from politicizing humanitarian issues, but at the same time, we may well start humanitarianizing political issues.

Mr. Chairperson,

The conflicts in our vicinity and millions of people having had to flee their homelands in grand despair have made Turkey the largest refugee hosting country. This is something neither Turkey nor the refugees themselves chose.

Despite all challenges, we pursued and continue to pursue our “open door policy” for those fleeing the violence in their countries.

However, the magnitude of the displacement faced by the neighboring countries has already exceeded the capacity of any country alone.

The cost of this huge undertaking for Turkey is approaching 8 billion Dollars. The international contribution we received through bilateral and multilateral channels so far is only 417 million Dollars.

Nearly 260 thousand Syrians are accommodated in 25 temporary protection centers and provided with food, non-food items, health and education services, as well as psychosocial assistance and vocational training. The 1.94 million Syrians who live outside these centers also enjoy temporary protection, benefiting from free health care.

As the number of Syrians that are seeking safety and refuge in Europe sharply increased, including by taking dangerous sea journeys, the Turkish Coast Guard intensified its activities in order to maintain safety and security at sea. Since the beginning of 2015, we have rescued over 55 thousand people from sea. Monthly cost of this operation is 5 million Euros.

On many occasions, we reiterated our call for burden and responsibility sharing. I express here once again, this is urgently needed.

With this understanding, we pioneered the inclusion of the item “Global awareness of the tragedies of irregular migrants in the Mediterranean basin with a specific emphasis on Syrian asylum-seekers” to the Agenda of the UN General Assembly.

This Agenda item will present a unique opportunity for the international community to discuss what viable responses and solutions could be provided for the irregular migrants and asylum-seekers in the Mediterranean basin.

Mr. Chairperson,

We closely follow the operations of the Office of the High Commissioner, expanding from many parts of Africa and the Middle East to the countries littoral to Andaman Sea. As the largest refugee hosting country, we know the challenges of the Agency. Our experiences also help us see the current issues through the lenses of not only donors, but also of those affected.

While the countries with large refugee communities carry the biggest share of the burden, they are not represented at the decision taking structures of the Agency to the same extent.

One of Turkey’s priorities for the World Humanitarian Summit is, increasing solidarity with the refugees and refugee hosting countries. To this end, we would like to call on the partnership of other countries with large refugee communities and the UNHCR.

Thank you.


Sadık Arslan Ambassador

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