Turkish Emergency 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.

Turkish NGOs including Turkish Red Crescent Society have also been very active in conducting humanitarian operations over the world.

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 biggest donor country of the world in 2017 with an official humanitarian aid of 8,07 billion US Dollars. Turkey also became the “most generous country”, taking into consideration the ratio of Turkish official humanitarian assistance to its national income in the same year.

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 January 2019, all needs of more than 140 thousand Syrians living in 14 temporary protection centers and other Syrians outside the camps are being met by our Government. The total number of Syrians in Turkey surpassed 3,6 million in January 2019.

Turkey has also been facilitating the cross-border humanitarian aid deliveries of UN aid agencies into Syria till 2014, pursuant to the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.

3.The foremost humanitarian aid operations of Turkey in the recent past were conducted after; the South-East Asia earthquake in December 2004, Pakistan earthquake in 2005, humanitarian crisis in Lebanon in 2006, Gaza Crisis at the end of 2008, Haiti and Chile earthquakes and flood disaster in Pakistan in 2010, Japan earthquake in 2011, typhoon in Philippines, floods in the Balkans and attacks to Gaza in 2014, earthquake in Nepal and conflict in Iraq in 2015, humanitarian crisis in Yemen and Libya in 2015-2016 and flood in Macedonia in 2016.

4.Turkey, in light of its experiences in the field of international humanitarian assistance, supports the efforts under the leadership of the UN to surmount the deadlock the international humanitarian aid system is facing today and to establish a just and efficient system. Hence, the World Humanitarian Summit which was initiated by Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary –General of the UN, was hosted by Turkey and held in Istanbul on 23-24 May 2016.

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. 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. Turkey, taking this opportunity, also shared its solution proposals for the problems of the humanitarian assistance system and its national practices with the representatives of international humanitarian assistance community.

180 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. 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 continues 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. In this context, Turkey recently hosted a workshop and a high level panel on May 18-19, 2017 in Istanbul, within the scope of “New Way of Working Initiative”, which is one of the major outcomes of the WHS and aims at ensuring an efficient coordination and cooperation between humanitarian and development actors in the field.