Ambassador Selçuk Ünal’s Article Published In The Hill Times Titled “canada And Turkey Could Allivate The Humanitarian Crises Of The World Together
Canada and Turkey Could Allivate the Humanitarian Crises of the World
Turkey has traditionally been a land that offered safe haven to
many people from different religions, races and languages throughout history.
Turkish people opened their homes and hearts to those who were forced to leave their homelands due to various reasons including violence. Turkey’s open-door policy will continue.
The attitude of the Turkish nation towards migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers has always been based on tolerance and
hospitality. Crimean Tatars, Poles, Swedes, Hungarians, Russians, Jews escaping
from Inquisition or Nazi Germany, Afghans, Bosnians, Kosovars, Macedonians,
Iraqi Kurds and lately Syrians and Iraqis took refuge in our territories. Those
people belonged to many different ethnic and religious backgrounds; yet one
thing they all shared was the trust they had for Turkey: a safe harbour.
In that respect, like Canada, Turkey has become home to many peoples
from different cultures living in harmony. So far more than 50.000 Syrians
arrived in Canada and close to 5.000 of them came from Turkey. However, if the
‘Responsibility to Protect’ principle put forward by Canada to the UN in 2005
were to have been followed at the outset of the Syrian crisis, things could have
been very different. Today, Canada is one of the few countries that should be
thanked since it has accepted Syrians while some countries are still sitting on
From the days the Ottomans helped the Irish during the Great
Famine in 1847 until now, magnitude of Turkey’s assistance changed, but not its
principles. Turkey is today hosting almost 4 million refugees from Syria and
Iraq, being the largest refugee hosting country in the world. Shouldering more
than its fair share of multi-dimensional responsibilities and left alone, Turkey
spent almost 32 billion USD so far. According to the Global Humanitarian
Assistance Report 2018, Turkey ranked the largest donor country world-wide with
its 8 billion USD humanitarian assistance that year. Turkey is also the largest
humanitarian donor when the ratio of official humanitarian assistance to
national income is taken into consideration.
Our contributions are not
confined to bilateral assistance projects. Turkey has also been increasing its
profile in international fora. Turkish Red Crescent and Turkish NGOs are very
active globally. In order to attract world’s attention to different crises,
Turkey hosted the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May 2016
which serves as a unique platform for the global community to address the
I believe both countries have many other common
points in humanitarian field. Together with Canada, Turkey is member of the
29-strong OCHA Donor Support Group to assist to UN with leading humanitarian
donors. Canada has recently joined the ‘Friends of Mediation Group’ which Turkey
and Finland founded in 2010. Turkey and Canada have tabled a joint resolution
titled ‘International Year of the Girl Child’ on October 11, 2012 to the UN, and
continue to table annually. Since then October 11th has been celebrated as the
‘International Girl Child Day’.
Drawing from its own experiences, Turkey
is a staunch supporter of international solidarity and partnership with a view
to building a safer world, saving human lives and breaking vicious circles in
this field through combined use of humanitarian and development tools. This
approach has especially been very successful in sub-Saharan Africa. Turkey’s
presence in Somalia is an exemplary case.
Turkey shall carry on to work
with responsible members of the international community like Canada for a more
multilateral and norm-based order on shared values and responsibilities.
On the 75th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic
relations, the two NATO Allies could have more avenues not only to meet needs,
but to effectively reduce risks and vulnerabilities over time as well as to work
on the humanitarian crises the humanity will be facing.
Ambassador of the
Republic of Turkey
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