Turkey World

Turkey’s hospitality and sacrifices for refugees and perspectives of European countries on the issue

Hasan Çolpan

Turkey became one of the first countries to bear the difficulties and authority gap brought about by the civil war in Iraq and Syria. Since 2011, Syria is facing a humanitarian catastrophe caused by displacement, armed conflicts and crimes against humanity. Turkey is helping all Syrians regardless of which religious denomination, ethnic group or social affiliation. Turkish citizens call Syrian refugees „temporarily guests“ which means they have to be treated as well as any other guest.Turkey became one of the first countries to bear the difficulties and authority gap brought about by the civil war in Iraq and Syria. Since 2011, Syria is facing a humanitarian catastrophe caused by displacement, armed conflicts and crimes against humanity. Turkey is helping all Syrians regardless of which religious denomination, ethnic group or social affiliation. Turkish citizens call Syrian refugees „temporarily guests“ which means they have to be treated as well as any other guest.
There is no other country in the world which is hosting as many Syrian refugees as Turkey does. According to the official statistic of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, also known as the UN Refugee Agency, is a United Nations programe mandated to protect and support refugees, Turkey is hosting 3,106,932 Registered Syrian Refugees (last updated on July 27, 2017).
Migration experts expect that there is actually a much more lager number of Syrian Refugees in Turkey because of the fact that not every Syrian Refugee is officially registered and due to illegal migration which cannot completely avoided. The border between the Syrian Arab Republic and the Republic of Turkey is about 822 kilometers long.
Additionally, there are at least 126,756 Iraqi Refugees and Asylum Seekers registered with UNHCR in Turkey (status September 2016).
All refugees need access to basic needs, including food, safe and appropriate cooking fuel, potable water, sanitation and shelter. There are millions of refugees in Turkey who need education and higher-education. Turkey is providing them free access to kindergarten, elementary school, secondary school, colleges and to universities.
Refugees also need a life-saving health care, including reproductive health care. The host of refugees must ensure that there are enough health workers and all necessary medicines and supplies to prevent and respond to infectious diseases and other health needs. The hosting country must establish priority reproductive health services for women and girls.
The birth rate of Syrian refugees in Turkey has surpassed the birth rate of Turkish citizens, according to Turkish Public Health Institution deputy head Mehmet Ali Torunoğlu.
Some 177,000 Syrian babies have been born in Turkey (figures from November 15, 2016) since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.
Sheltering and taking care of  3.1 Million registered refugees, Hundreds of thousands unregistered refugees as well as of more than 177,000 babies is an enormous challenge for any county.
Turkey isn’t one of the richest countries in the world. But it has met this challenge excellently. Me myself, I was able to research the situation of Syrian refugees in Kilis, Gaziantep and Reyhanlı which are some cities that host large numbers of Syrian refugees. But there are Syrian refugees in nearly any city of the country.
Turkey takes great care of the Syrian refugees on all levels and by all means. This includes the governmental fundings, aid provided by the municipalities of all cities, civil societies, charity organizations, the Muhtars of the neighbourhoods and private citizens. This should be recognized at appreciated by all nations and the world who share Turkey’s compassion. Unfortunately some European countries does not estimate Turkeys efforts and sacrifices for the sake of Syrian refugees.
Turkey has even launched a program with the EU on the refugee crisis but this program doesn’t run at the desired speed because the EU does not handle this important issue properly. Turkey had received only €80 million ($9.3 million) out of a promised €3 billion ($3.5 billion) budget to help Syrian refugees.
The European Union clearly failed to support Turkey handling the burden costs of supplying all needs to Syrian refugees.
Several European politicians claim Turkey’s only intention to receive refugees would be to blackmail EU countries. This is a lie which ignores Turkey’s sacrifices for refugees.
When Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas was visiting Ankara recently (on August 16, 2017), he said he appreciated Turkey’s “magnificent” work in preventing a refugee influx into EU territory. He did not express gratitude or admiration for Turkey’s unique humanitarian achievements for refugees. His only concern is how well Turkey may prevent refugees migration to EU countries.
“The refugee crisis is a significant issue for the EU. This is a field that requires cooperation between EU member states and their neighbors,” Prime Minister Juri Rata added in a press conference with his Turkish counterpart, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.
Turkey’s Prime Minister agrees with the Estonian Prime Minister that this field definitely requires cooperation between the EU member states and Turkey, but in this case the EU must transfer the remaining amount of the promised €3 billion to Turkey as soon as possible. Why should cover just Turkey alone all the financial burden if EU countries benefit from „preventing a refugee influx into EU territory“.
The remarks done by the Estonian Prime Minister on this issue are representative for EU’s leaders. This is a shame. There is no better example of kindness and charitableness in contemporary history than Turkey’s aid given to refugees on their ground. This act of humanity should be more recognized by EU countries which must share the financial burden of Turkey instead of just focussing on their political self-interest. It is all about humanity! And in this case there should not be any self-interest.

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About the author

Martin Lejeune

Martin Lejeune

Martin Lejeune is a freelance journalist, correspondent, political analyst and photographer based in Berlin, Germany

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