Humanitarian Crises and Turkey’s Contributions

Abdurrahman Bilgiç 01.02.2016

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me thank Lady Griffiths for inviting me here today.

I am honoured to be a guest at theMonday
Luncheon Club which, in itself, is an example of a great tradition.

While everybody is waiting for the desserts now, it is not easy to give
a “sweet speech”, especially when we know that a good-tasty pudding will be
served soon. So I will try to keep it short.

I know that the topic of my speech is not a good appetite for a lunch
speech. I apologise.

Looking at the humanitarian crises in the world today, unfortunately, we
see that a terrible disaster confronts us.

Over the past two decades, 218 million people have been left destitute
as a result of natural disasters. According to the UN figures, today 60 million
people have abandoned their homes because of conflict or violence. There have
never been so many refugees in the history of the world.

Those who consider these figures as mere statistics are gravely mistaken. The
humanitarian, political, economic and sociological factors of this state of
affairs should not be condoned.

Unfortunately, the humanitarian crises are worsen with each passing day.

It was only four months ago that the body of three-year-old Aylan washed
up on a beach in Turkey. The photograph of this little boy got etched in our
minds and touched to our hearts. And the recent footage from the besieged
Syrian town of Madara remind us of pictures taken at the concentration camps of
World War Two.

Distinguished Guests,

We are all raised with an understanding of helping needy. We all know
that it is a must. It is in our nature.

In my language, there is a proverb: “While your neighbour is hungry, you
cannot have a peace of mind”.

In Turkey, with this approach, we are constantly asking ourselves
"what more can we do”.

Our people have been hosting, and with great sacrifices, more than 2.5 million
Syrians along with 200 hundred thousand Iraqis. Today, according to the UNHCR
figures, Turkey hosts the highest number of refugees in the world. Our expenses
have exceeded 8 billion dollars while the amount of assistance provided by the
international community is only 455 million dollars.

We are continuing our humanitarian activities beyond our borders. Turkey has
become one of the most important actors in the global humanitarian system.

Today, our development assistance is about 3.5 billion dollars. In addition, we
extended about 1.7 billion dollars of humanitarian aid.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to underscore a point: We do not only help the kindred communities
or neighbouring countries, but we also try to reach places Africa, Afghanistan,
the Caribbean and the Asia-Pacific region.

Our solidarity with the Somali people who suffered from a severe drought in
2011 is just one example.

Turkey is not a country that sees exploitable underground resources when it
looks to Africa. Therefore, our contributions to the development of the
continent have gained us a privileged place in the hearts of the African

We also continued our humanitarian diplomacy efforts in 2015, without any
discrimination based on religion, language or race.

While assisting Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Palestine, we also paid attention to the
calls for help from thousands of Bengali and Rohingya people, who are confined to
the Andaman Sea by human traffickers.

We extended our hands to Malaysia and Tajikistan when they experienced flood
disasters; to Vanuatu when it was affected by the hurricane; and Nepal and
Afghanistan, when they suffered from earthquake. We were one of the first
countries that came to the help of Sierra Leone, Benin, Guinea, and Liberia
when they were affected by the Ebola virus epidemic.

Turkey has reached the victims of various disasters in 54 countries in the last
five years.

We proudly emphasize that human-oriented diplomacy has become an integral part
of our foreign policy.

Distinguished Guests,

Before concluding, let me touch upon the first World Humanitarian
Summit. The Summit, set to take place in
Istanbul from 23 to 24 May 2016, is a global call to action by the United
Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The Summit will bring together governments, humanitarian organizations,
people affected by humanitarian crises and new partners including the private
sector to propose solutions to our most pressing challenges, and set an agenda
to keep humanitarian action fit for the future.

The Summit has three main goals:

re-inspire and reinvigorate our commitment to humanity and to the universality
of humanitarian principles,

-to initiate
a set of concrete actions and commitments aimed at enabling countries and
communities to better prepare for and respond to crises, and be more resilient
to shocks,

-to share
innovations and best practices that can help to save lives around the world,
put affected people at the centre of humanitarian action, and alleviate

Thank you for you attention, and I stay ready for any questions that you
may have.


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