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Turkey’s Humanitarian Assistance

1. The Turkish nation has an enduring tradition of humanitarian aid emanating from its history and culture. In this regard, Turkey regards helping countries in difficult times due to natural disasters, war, poverty and social clashes as a humanitarian duty and an important element in achieving stable international community.

On the basis of this notion, Turkey exerts efforts to provide speedily humanitarian aid to those who need help within the bounds of its possibilities and without discrimination towards race, religion or gender. Furthermore, it always supports and contributes to the international efforts of humanitarian assistance.

Turkey’s humanitarian assistance efforts, which was initiated in the mid-1980s by providing food aid, have gained a remarkable impetus in the last decade, expanded to many regions across the world and diversified in terms of quantity and quality covering a wide range of activities.

Furthermore, Turkey extends its humanitarian assistance not only at bilateral level but also through international organizations such as the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and World Food Programme (WFP). Thus, Turkey’s humanitarian aid contributions have gained an international dimension and its cooperation with international institutions operating in the field has been enhanced. In this regard, on 1 July 2014, Turkey became a member of the OCHA Donor Support Group (ODSG). ODSG is a consultation mechanism aiming at shaping humanitarian policies followed by the OCHA and brings together top OCHA donor countries.

According to the Global Humanitarian Assistance Report, Turkey became the 3rd biggest donor country of the world following the USA and the United Kingdom in 2013 with an official humanitarian aid of 1.6 billion US Dollars. In 2014, the Turkish humanitarian aid comprising a total of 2.4 billion US Dollars corresponded to 67% of Turkey’s Official Development Assistance. According to the initial official data for 2015, Turkey has extended humanitarian assistance, which is 2.7 billion US Dollars.

2. The underlying factor of Turkey’s recent humanitarian assistance has been the humanitarian dimensions of the ongoing crisis in Syria. The global effects of this crisis are increasing day by day while strengthening Turkey’s position within the current humanitarian aid system.

In this context, Turkey has been pursuing its “open door policy” for Syrians fleeing from violence in their country, within the framework of its obligations stemming from international humanitarian law. Moreover, it has been strictly implementing the principle of non-refoulement and continues to provide temporary protection to Syrians, without discrimination, in accordance with the international law. As of 2016, all needs of more than 260 thousand Syrians living in 26 temporary protection centers and other Syrians outside the camps are being met by our Government. The total number of Syrians in Turkey surpassed 2.7 million in 2016.

3. Another humanitarian crisis that poses importance for Turkey and its region is the clashes erupted on 6 June 2014 in Mosul, Iraq and the wave of immigration caused by them. Turkey has been the first and only country to interfere in this crisis in a consistent way. As of 12 June 2014, humanitarian assistance was provided by the Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (AFAD), Ministry of Health of the Republic of Turkey, Turkish Red Crescent and Turkish International Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) in order to meet the needs of food, health and accommodation of approximately 900,000, who took shelters in the regions under the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Administration control. The humanitarian assistance of Turkey for needy Iraqis continues without discrimination.

4. Turkey immediately took action in order to extend help to the Palestinians who were in urgent need of humanitarian assistance after the Israel attack to Gaza on 8 July 2014. In addition to financial and in-kind assistance in 2015 and 2016, wounded people from Gaza were brought to Turkey and treated through a joint effort by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, TIKA, AFAD and Ministry of Health. Turkey believes that the services provided by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to Palestinian refugees for 65 years has been an important aspect for preserving the stability in the region, where many disputes have occurred. As an indicator of our support, Turkey continues to provide financial and in-kind assistance to the UNRWA.

5. The following are among the other humanitarian activities of Turkey: the South-East Asia earthquake in December 2004, Pakistan earthquake in 2005, humanitarian crisis in Libya in 2006, Gaza Crisis at the end of 2008, Haiti and Chile earthquakes occurring in 2010, flood disaster in Pakistan in August 2010, Japan earthquake and Libya crisis in 2011, floods in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia in 2014, earthquakes in Nepal and Afghanistan in 2015, Rohingya and Bengali refugees, earthquake in Ecuador, current humanitarian crises in Libya and Yemen in 2016.

6. In the face of the deadlock the international humanitarian aid system is facing today, the World Humanitarian Summit was held in Istanbul under the auspices of H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of the Republic of Turkey, on 23-24 May 2016 for the first time in history within the framework of the personal initiative of Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary –General of the UN.

The Summit was held at the level of Heads of State and Government and on a multi-stakeholder platform with the participation of the representatives of international organizations, non-governmental organizations, academia, private sector and leaders from crisis-affected communities. In the light of the report titled “One Humanity: Shared Responsibility” published by the UN Secretary- General on 9 February 2016 and with the participation of all stakeholders, the Summit provided an opportunity to address the issues in order to overcome difficulties faced by the global humanitarian system. During the Summit, all stakeholders of the humanitarian assistance field made various commitments for the future of the system and shared their opinions and experiences.

173 UN member states participated in the Summit and 55 of them were represented at the level of Heads of State and Government. More than 60 Ministers were present in the event as well. Moreover, more than 40 international organizations were represented at the Secretary General / President level. Along with other stakeholders, a total of 9 thousand participants attended the Summit. 900 press members followed the Summit, which had a wide coverage in the international media.

Thus, the World Humanitarian Summit has gained the title of the largest Summit organized - apart from the UN Headquarters in New York – in which the greatest number of countries participated at once.

Turkey’s resolution proposals for the problems of the humanitarian assistance system, remarks regarding the future of the system and its national practices were shared with the representatives of international humanitarian assistance community in a series of high level meetings with the participation of H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan himself – or co-chaired by him – and our Ministers as well as high level officials.

In addition, more than 130 side events were held in the Summit. 21 of them were hosted by various Ministers and specialized agencies of Turkey. Last but not least, innovative products and good practices of Turkey’s stakeholders, particularly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, AFAD, TIKA and Red Crescent, were displayed in more than 30 exhibitions at the Exhibition Fair of the Summit.

The summaries of the proceedings were captured in the Chair’s Summary by the UN Secretary-General and Turkey’s invaluable hospitality and contributions to the content of the Summit were highlighted.

In the forthcoming period, Turkey will continue to play an effective role in implementing and monitoring the outcomes of the Summit and the commitments made by all stakeholders in the humanitarian assistance field.