Introductory Remarks by Ambassador SELÇUK ÜNAL at the public event titled “Canada at the World Humanitarian Summit: Opportunities for leadership and Legacy”
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure for me to address the esteemed participants of this event focusing on the World Humanitarian Summit. I would like to thank the leadership of CCIC and all its members as well as University of Ottawa’s School of International Development and Global Studies and Canadian Association of International Development Professionals for organizing this event.
The ever first UN World Humanitarian Summit will be held to address the extraordinary challenges to the current international humanitarian system. Governmental delegations, international organizations, NGOs, academia, media, private sector, youth representatives, together with affected communities will join their efforts to address various challenges.
And Turkey, as the Summit’s host country and as home to the world’s largest refugee population with more than 3 million people, is fully engaged and committed to make the World Humanitarian Summit a real success. Choice of Turkey as host country was not a coincidence. It constitutes a timely recognition of the successful humanitarian diplomacy that we have been conducting.
The current international humanitarian system can no longer adequately address today’s humanitarian crises. Turkey will host this historic Summit on 23-24 May 2016 in Istanbul at a time when humanitarian crises are becoming increasingly complex. Beyond Syria, whether in the Middle East, Asia, Africa or elsewhere, humanitarian crises are transcending borders. Today, we observe three trends:
- First, growing complexity of contemporary humanitarian crises, the great majority of which are conflict related. Today, 80% of humanitarian needs are caused by conflict, with most being recurrent or protracted crises lasting years long.
- Second, growing financing gap between ever-increasing needs and limited resources, as well as “the humanitarian fatigue” of donors.
- Third, as a consequence, growing suffering of affected peoples and communities.
In this vein, we attach importance to:
a) political leadership which will enable efficient and proactive prevention of and rapid response to crises and displacement,
b) development of a holistic and sustainable approach combining humanitarian assistance with development tools especially in the regions suffering protracted and recurrent crises,
c) Rather than appealing to ad hoc donations; predictable, reliable and sustainable financing must be guaranteed with multi-year planning and funding. Introduction of innovative financing mechanisms will also support efforts in the long run.
Today, 125 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance around the globe. Number of displaced persons, 60 million, 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.
From our vantage point, Turkey has spent 10 billion US Dollars on the Syrian refugee crisis since 2011. I would like to highlight some figures for you to grasp the gravity of the current situation of the Syrian refugee crises. In addition to humanitarian aid, we provide education, health care, and social services at 26 shelter centres for Syrians, meeting the refugees’ physical, social, and psychological needs. The total number of refugees in camps is 282,000, including 272,000 Syrians. Nearly 152,000 Syrian babies were born in Turkey during the past 5 years. The number of Syrian students in Turkey, including public schools, is 325,000. In healthcare, since 2011 at the shelters, ambulatory care services have been provided over 5 million times. 9.46 million people have been provided hospital care.
Turkey’s successful provision of humanitarian and emergency aid is thanks to the hard work of several institutions, especially the Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), the Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) and the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA).
On this occasion, I would like to commend the humanitarian works carried out by the Canadian organizations around the globe including Syria. It reflects the generosity of the Canadian people. Representatives of many of these organizations are with us today.
Unfortunately, violence against humanitarian workers is also increasing. We strongly condemn all attacks to humanitarian workers, including the most recent ones against the facilities of Médecins Sans Frontières, as well as the appalling airstrikes carried out by the regime forces in Syria, first to Aleppo’s largest paediatric and maternity centre, Al Quds Hospital two weeks ago and then last week targeting Kamuna IDP camp in Sarmada village of the Idlib province, located right along our border. We just today witnessed another barbaric attack to a camp in Idlib again.
These attacks deliberately targeting civilians and humanitarian workers constitute war crimes. Regime’s supporters must stop trying to exonerate and justify regime’s deliberate attacks on civilians. We call upon the international community to live up to its responsibilities without further delay in the face of these grave crimes against humanity.
Today, as no country is immune from humanitarian crises. We currently witness here in Canada the evacuation of Fort McMurray. Our hearts and minds are with the affected. Responding to these crises is not only an international responsibility, but also a moral obligation. Turkey, as a responsible member of the international community is doing more than its share, unfortunately, with limited international support. We all hope the Summit will be a success for all.
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