With about 30 million people affected by the migration crisis in Europe that is transcending borders, Istanbul, Turkey has agreed to host the first ever global United Nations Humanitarian Summit on May 23 and 24.
Turkey has been at the forefront of the humanitarian crisis as it globally hosts the largest refugee population, more than 3 million, which has mainly been attributed to the war that is raging in neighbouring Syria that started in 2011.
The Turkish government says it has spent about 8 million euros of its own money to host the millions of refugees in 25 refugee camps, while it has only received 418 million euros (18 percent) from donor countries.
“Turkey believes that the most basic human right is the right to life and Turkey is experiencing the migrant and humanitarian crisis on a first hand basis,” said Turkish Ambassador to Namibia, Denize Cakar.
The summit will be attended by heads of state and government, donor and recipient countries, non-governmental organisations, civil society as well as media.
Speaking about the summit in a recent article, Turkish Minister of Foreign Affiars, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, said: “While major natural disasters continue to be a significant cause of death and displacement, what is most alarming today is that a great majority of humanitarian crises are conflict-related and of a recurrent or protracted nature. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Syria, where a mass murderer has, with outside help, targeted his own people indiscriminately and with impunity. Beyond Syria, whether in the Middle East, Asia, Africa or elsewhere, humanitarian crises are transcending borders.”
It is estimated that currently about 125 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance around the globe while the number of displaced persons, 60 million, has almost doubled in just a decade.
“These numbers stand as testament to the human suffering caused by the growing complexity of humanitarian crises, our inability and unwillingness to tackle them, and the widening financial gap between increasing needs and limited resources,” said Çavuşoğlu.
Çavuşoğlu stated Turkey’s humanitarian diplomacy is not limited to its immediate region. “Having received vulnerable persons, irrespective of race, religion or ethnicity as far back as in the late 15th century, Turkey today is responding to all manner of humanitarian crises from Haiti to Nepal, Guinea to Somalia and the Sahel to Indonesia. Our humanitarian efforts seek not only to relieve symptoms but also to treat the disease. This holistic approach covers humanitarian and development assistance, and also seeks to address the root causes and push factors of humanitarian crises. This approach is demand-driven and can best be seen in the countries of the Sahel or in Somalia, where Turkey has pursued an integrated policy conducted with a multi-stakeholder approach. It has combined official aid with the active involvement of the business sector and civil society, and has managed to dramatically improve countless lives,” Çavuşoğlu explained.
Çavuşoğlu says the World Humanitarian Summit will provide a vital platform to address the challenges burdening the humanitarian system.
In addition to such issues as responding to recurrent/protracted crises and waves of displacement, other pressing issues such as ensuring sustainable, reliable and predictable humanitarian financing will be examined.
Other questions such as what innovative methods could be used, or how to promote localised humanitarian responses through more tailor-made and user-friendly approaches, as well as the question of dignity and safety in humanitarian action, will be addressed at the summit.