Statement by HE Atilla TOROS, Director General of Migration Management, High Level Segment on Afgan Refugees, UNHCR EXCOM Meeting
Mr. High Commissioner,
Ministers and distinguished delegates,
I would like to begin my speech with words of sincere gratitude to UNHCR. I am here on behalf of
Turkey as the Director General of Migration Management, responsible for migration and asylum issues.
Owing to its geographical and strategic location at the junction of three continents, Turkey has always been a route of significant migration flows throughout the history and continues to be one. Hosting more than two million refugees today, Turkey still holds a significant role in the region.
In recent years, Turkey has also become a target country besides being a major transit route for migrants. According to 2014 data, Turkey has become the country hosting the highest number of refugees in the world.
As a result of the policies pursued for Afghan nationals in the past years, there has been an increase in the number of irregular migration flows and international protection applications by Afghans especially in Turkey.
Afghan nationals constitute 25 percent of irregular migrants apprehended in Turkey in 2014. There is a need for supporting the voluntary return of Afghan migrants who are not in need for international protection. Mitigating the causes of irregular migration by initiatives in the source country and providing aid to brother country Afghanistan must be among the priorities of the international community.
With regard to voluntary return, we would like to invite the international community to strongly support the projects and programs of the Afghan authorities towards encouraging those Afghans who want to return home.
As in the other parts of the world, Afghans are one of the nationalities with the highest number of international protection applications filed in Turkey.
Primary issue that we encounter regarding the Afghan refugee crisis is the long processing times for resettlement in third countries and the insufficient quotas granted to Afghans.
What we expect from UNHCR and the international community is to finalize resettlement processes of all refugees, particularly Afghans, in the shortest time possible and in an effective manner. We would also like to take this opportunity to remind to the assuring governments that the quotas for resettlement of vulnerable Afghans must be increased.
We have recently witnessed the loss of many lives in the Mediterranean Sea a common route for a large number of refugees striving to reach Europe. The majority of these refugees were Syrians and Afghans.
Today we observe that many developed countries are not taking the necessary responsibility for those who are in need of international protection and pursue policies that discriminate against these persons. While Turkey hosts more than two million refugees as a single country, it is a dismal fact that many developed countries refrain from resettling a higher number of refugees.
In these times when we need to cooperate with each other more than ever, the international community is expected to fulfill its obligations regarding responsibility and burden sharing to ensure that international refugee law is respected. The first and the most important part of burden sharing is the ability to empathize with others.
Our primary expectation is that empathy prevails as a strategy considering the current conditions faced by Afghan refugees.
We strongly believe that Afghan refugees should regain hope about their future. I would like to conclude my words with the earnest wish that our ongoing cooperation with UNHCR will enhance through engagement of Turkey in the projects.
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