More support should be given to countries like Turkey for hosting refugees: UNHCR
Hazal Özcan – ANKARA
As the world marks International Refugee Day with a record number of displaced people hit by ongoing conflicts and coronavirus pandemic on top of it, the U.N. Refugee Agency’s representative for Turkey called on the international community to ramp up support given for countries hosting a large number of refugees and asylum seekers.
In an interview with Hürriyet Daily News, Philippe Leclerc, the representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Turkey, said that even though the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact has been high on countries like Turkey – which host a large number of displaced persons – it also taught the world that solidarity brings strength.
“In the implementation of the legal framework, Turkey continued to pursue a policy of including refugees in services provided through public systems at national, provincial, and local levels,” Leclerc said.
While Leclerc dubbed Turkey’s contribution by hosting nearly 4 million refugees and asylum seekers as “extraordinary,” he also praised efforts that included refugees and migrants in the country’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
“However, more support is needed to be provided by the international community to Turkey and also to all other countries hosting a large number of refugees as the pandemic stretches the capacities of the states to respond to the needs of both its citizens and the refugees,” Leclerc said.
“The countries and communities hosting large numbers of refugees, such as Turkey, are in need of additional support and solidarity as they are dealing with ‘an emergency on top of an emergency,’” he added.
Underlining the significance of funding in the solution of humanitarian needs, Leclerc said that “international solidarity is essential in refugee situations,” and it “has to commit to long term financial support to host countries.”
“This is even more important considering that countries in developed regions hosted 14 percent of the world’s refugees while the majority of the global refugee population were in the developing or least developed countries,” he said.
Leclerc also drew attention to the role of local administrations in aiding refugees and asylum seekers, saying that municipalities in Turkey “provide a considerable amount of support.”
“The UNHCR Turkey recognizes the importance of such efforts in producing local solutions and, within the scope of its resources, supports municipalities’ interventions to increase the self-reliance of both refugee and host communities,” he added.
“This year, on World Refugee Day, while we as UNHCR are grateful for the generosity and hospitality of the Turkish people and authorities, we call on people to include the forcibly displaced and stateless in our communities and their lives,” Leclerc said.
Leclerc said that 2020 became the ninth year of uninterrupted rise in forced displacement across the globe. According to the UNHCR’s latest Global Trends report, the number of people fleeing conflicts and human rights violations in 2020 reached nearly 82.4 million.
The figure shows a 4-percent rise from the 2019 data and double the rise from a decade ago.
Xenophobia, racism root causes of displacement
Leclerc said that World Refugee Day is “a day to acknowledge the experiences of the millions of people forced to flee violence and persecution,” but it is also a day to celebrate the solidarity between host countries and displaced persons.
“Campaigns portraying the human side of the refugee/displacement crisis aim to increase empathy for the challenges refugees are facing through individual stories of courage, resilience, and humanity. The day is an opportunity to speak on who a refugee is,” he said.
Underlining that racism, xenophobia, and discrimination are “root causes of forced displacement,” Leclerc states that ending racism is a “priority” for it should prevent displacement and provide “peaceful coexistence” between communities.