UN envoy: Turkey's refugee response 'exemplary'

UN envoy: Turkey's refugee response 'exemplary'

As one of the few countries hosting more than 50% of the world's refugees, the UN said Turkey's response has been "exemplary". Speaking to Anadolu Agency on the sidelines of the 10th Bosphorus Summit in Istanbul, Turkey representative of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Katharina Lumpp said: "It's always been a few countries that host very large numbers of refugees and Turkey’s response has been exemplary."

Praising Turkey particularly for its "inclusion" and "harmonization" of refugees in the country, Lumpp noted that Ankara has adopted a "very comprehensive" legal framework for foreigners and for international protection. "Then [Turkey] adopted the Temporary Protection Regulation that provides a framework for the rights and the obligations of the Syrians and other refugees in Turkey," she added.

Lumpp argued that the focus of the international community should not only be on responding to the humanitarian needs of refugees, but supporting host countries and communities. It is host countries who bear the responsibility on behalf of the international community, she underlined.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity. Since then, over 5 million civilians have become refugees. Turkey hosts 3.6 million of them, more than any country in the world.

Lumpp also praised Turkey’s policy of inclusion of refugees in social services: "[This] allows the international community to support the institutions like the education system, to benefit both refugees and Turkish citizens."

"So this policy of inclusion is extremely important and it's very positive," she added. Another very important aspect, Lumpp said, was what Turkey describes as "harmonization".

She said harmonization referred to supporting foreigners, refugees and Turkish citizens to "live in harmony with each other to interact socially" and to "support and enable" refugees and foreigners to "participate in social life, independent of the assistance of third parties".

"They bring skills, they bring knowledge, and if given the opportunity, they can contribute to the society of the host country," she added. "So, the harmonization concept is also very important," she said.

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