During a three-day mission to Turkey, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi praised the country for its continued commitment to protecting refugees and asylum-seekers and including them in public services like education, health and livelihoods.
Turkey currently hosts some 3.7 million Syrians and around 330,000 others, the majority of whom are Afghans.
The High Commissioner said: “Turkey is an example to the world not only in that it continues to protect millions of refugees, but is also a leader in how it hosts them. The Government and people have included refugees in public services, offering important opportunities for them to achieve their potential.”
Grandi added: “ Refugees have access to public services, such as education, legal work opportunities and national health care including testing and vaccination for COVID-19. This is real inclusion. However, responding to a refugee crisis and assisting refugees must be a global and shared responsibility as reiterated in the Global Compact for Refugees. Donors must also step up and help not just refugees but also the Turkish people who have generously hosted them.”
The High Commissioner’s mission included visits to Ankara, Sanliurfa and Gaziantep. He was received by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and held meetings with Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlût Çavuşoğlu and Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu.
During his meetings, Grandi emphasized the importance of global cooperation to find solutions to displacement and refugee flows as well as the importance of scaling up assistance both in refugee hosting countries and countries of origin.
The unfolding situation in Afghanistan was also a subject of discussions and Grandi briefed on UNHCR’s operations inside the country to urgently help the 3.5 million displaced people ahead of the looming winter as well as UNHCR’s activities in support of Afghan refugees and their hosts. Grandi also reiterated his public appeal to all member states to respect the right of Afghans to seek international protection.
While in Şanlıurfa and Gaziantep, Grandi met the respective governors and mayors and thanked them for their leadership in promoting harmonious relations between Turkish and Syrian communities.
He also met with refugees to listen to their perspectives and experiences as refugees and their hopes and aspirations for the future.