Turkey suggests building new cities for refugees across world
AA photoTurkey has suggested a two-track plan to tackle the escalating international refugee crisis, including building entirely new cities for displaced people and founding an umbrella organization financed by all countries.
“The refugee policy of the international community has collapsed,” Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş told reporters on Oct. 26, while presenting an official Turkish study in search of a solution.
The first leg of the plan is to form a new body broader than the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and with the capacity to implement projects across the world, Kurtulmuş said, suggesting that every nation should finance the organization in proportion to its national income.
The second part of the plan is to “establish new settlements for refugees.”
“It is important to found settlements where refugees can show their capabilities, administering themselves and contributing to the economies of countries where they are located,” Kurtulmuş added.
Turkey cannot accept becoming a “concentration camp of the world,” he said, while adding that the country is open to building such proposed new cities on its land or in possible safe zones in Syria.
The plan would include the building of cities or towns with schools, hospitals and factories for displaced people.
Turkey officially hosts around 2.2 million refugees, mainly from Syria and Iraq. Around 270,000 of them live in 26 camps mainly located in the south and southeast, while the rest live in cities across the country.
Turkey has already encouraged a kind of self-rule among refugees, making them chose “village heads” in camps managed by the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority’s (AFAD).
“When people think of refugees, they tend to think of children cleaning car windows in traffic. But there is a brilliant generation there with professional and entrepreneurial potential,” Deputy Prime Minister Kurtulmuş said.
The plan is still developing and is not a potential issue of bargaining in possible coalition talks after the Nov. 1 snap election, he told the Hürriyet Daily News on the sidelines of the meeting, referring to an apparent gap with the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which has vowed to send refugees back once conditions are suitable in their home countries.
Kurtulmuş said it would take years for refugees to return, even if the war ended today.
He therefore called on business people, academics, non-governmental organizations and individuals to contribute in plans to develop a better life and future.
“Refugees do not change places, they lose their place on earth,” he said, citing sociologist Zygmunt Bauman.
There are currently almost 60 million people in the world with refugee status, and Kurtulmuş predicted this would “double within 15 years if the income gap between the rich and the poor, wars and oppression continue to worsen.”
He also praised Turkey’s efforts and experience on the refugee issue, saying all refugee kids in Turkish camps and some 450,000 overall at the schooling age will be offered classes, while 330,000 have already been receiving education.