OECD 'ready to assist' Europe over refugee crisis

OECD 'ready to assist' Europe over refugee crisis

ISTANBUL - Anadolu Agency
OECD ready to assist Europe over refugee crisis

DHA photo

The Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is ready to help European countries deal with the refugee crisis, a senior Turkish diplomat has told Anadolu Agency.

Some 522,134 people - more than double last year's figure - reached Europe via the Mediterranean, including 388,324 people landing in Greece and 130,891 in Italy, according to the United Nations.

The largest group was from Syria, where refugees have fled the civil war; about 200,000 Syrian people have reached Greece so far.

On the sidelines of the organization's annual retreat meeting in Istanbul on Friday, Turkish ambassador Mithat Rende, Permanent Representative to the OECD, said the organization was ready to assist European countries grappling with the exodus.

"The organization is eager to help countries with its expertise. In fact, the OECD has been building capacity over refugees. It will make a contribution to the global-level refugee problem," Rende said. However, no country has applied to the organization for such help.

In the wake of the refugee crisis, some members of the European Union suspended visa-free travel within the Schengen area and reintroduced border checks in order to stop the flow.

Hungary's response was widely was seen as heavy-handed while Germany has adopted an open-door policy. Berlin was considered eager to include these refugees into the economic cycle.

The Turkish ambassador said that the international economic organization concentrates on the integration of refugees into a country and the economic consequences of this movement.

"For the OECD and its secretary-general [Angel Gurria], these refugees can contribute to economic development. Some countries may perceive them as a problem. But their integration is vital... They should be included into economic life," Rende stressed.

Last month, Gurria called on the OECD's 34 members - which includes Germany, France and the United Kingdom - to come up with a comprehensive plan to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to asylum seekers and help for them to integrate.

"European leaders need to step up to the challenge so that Europe as a whole emerges stronger economically, socially and politically. Europe has the experience and the capacity to respond," Gurria said on September 22 in Paris.

Talking to Anadolu Agency, the Mexican secretary-general praised Turkey's response to the Syrian refugee crisis.

"I believe the reaction of Turkey has been exemplary and generous," he said.

Well over $5 billion has been spent on supporting refugees in Turkey, whose registered numbers have passed the 2.2-million mark.

As of Sept. 28, 2015, a total of 258,974 Syrian refugees have been sheltered in 25 temporary accommodation centers, including tent cities and container cities across 10 Turkish provinces.