Erdoğan calls on states to help with refugee crisis

Erdoğan calls on states to help with refugee crisis

Erdoğan calls on states to help with refugee crisis

AP photo

Turkey is calling on the world to create a fair mechanism to share the refugee burden, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said in an op-ed penned for The Guardian.

“At a time when the international community failed the Syrian people – 600,000 of whom have lost their lives in the civil war, with 13 million forced from their homes – Turkey, along with the rest of Syria’s neighbors, was left to deal with the conflict’s consequences,” said Erdoğan in his article, “When the world failed Syria, Turkey stepped in. Now others must help.” Turkey remains the world’s most generous country in terms of humanitarian aid, he added.

“Turkey has been a safe haven for people escaping war, destruction and oppression for centuries, and today we provide humanitarian relief in more than 140 countries on five continents. In fact, Turkey remains the world’s most generous country, spending a bigger share of its GDP on humanitarian aid than any other,” he added.

Mentioning the World Humanitarian Summit that kicked off on May 23 in Istanbul, Erdoğan said the outcome of the summit depended on the “sincerity” of the leaders that are participating.

“Global leaders will this week make concrete commitments to reform the system, but whether the summit can make an actual difference depends on the sincerity of participants and how much room there is in our hearts for 125 million fellow human beings. Together we must restore hope in the hearts of the poor, the hungry and the oppressed. Let us join together to take a giant leap forward toward a more peaceful, safe and fair world,” Erdoğan said. “For the first time, heads of state and government, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and those affected by humanitarian crises will come together to look for answers.”

World leaders from United Nations member states, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam and Kuwaiti Emir al-Jaber al-Sabah are in Istanbul for the summit.

During the summit, at least 50 heads of government will announce several commitments to reduce humanitarian disasters.   

In his article, Erdoğan also criticized the international community, saying they turned a blind eye to Syrian President “Bashar al-Assad’s crimes,” while adding that the extent to which the international humanitarian aid system had broken down was alarming.

“The international community in particular has largely ignored its responsibilities toward the Syrian people by turning a blind eye to Bashar al-Assad’s crimes against his own citizens. It was not until refugees appeared in the streets of Europe and terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL] started attacking EU citizens that European leaders realized they could no longer ignore the problem,” he said, adding that many Syria-related problems could have been avoided had the world intervened in the early stages of the conflict.

Noting that Europe and Turkey must work together to keep illegal immigration under control, Erdoğan stressed that as a “key stakeholder” in the Middle East, the EU must work more effectively with Turkey and others to develop a lasting solution in Syria.

“To keep illegal immigration under control Europe and Turkey must work together to create legal mechanisms, such as the March 2016 agreement, for the resettlement of Syrian refugees. By rewarding refugees who play by the rules and making it clear that illegal immigrants will be sent back to Turkey, we can persuade refugees to avoid risking their lives at sea,” he said. 

Erdoğan also urged the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council to use their veto power to promote peace, stability and security around the world instead of “looking out for their short-term interests.”