A group of NGOs in Turkey has held a joint press conference in relation to the refugee crisis facing the world and the problems and issues associated with it.
The president of the International Refugee Rights Association, Mr Ugur Yildirim said that Turkey has accepted over 2 million refugees so far. We cannot find a solution, he said by just “sharing our meal” and with the possibility of the Aleppo Corridor being closed down it is likely that this number will increase further.
There are many issues involved with refugee rights which demand swift action. Mr Yildirim stated that refugee rights is a pressing issue facing the globe and stressed that urgent action must be taken both domestically and internationally to address the problem. Refugees fall prey to human and organ traffickers. They easily become victims of rape and abuse and easily taken advantage of. He also highlighted the fact that the number of refugee deaths were increasing by the day.
IHH general secretary, Yavuz Dede, said the refugee crisis is not just Turkey’s problem but it is also a problem facing all the nations of the world.
The leader of the East Turkestan Education and Solidarity Association, Mr Hidayet Oguzhan, said that legislation needs to be implemented urgently for the refugees. In his address, the director of the AMNESTY Turkey, Murat Cekic, pointed out that like Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon were also left on their own to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis. The international community had done nothing to help and had failed to fulfil their duty.
Civil society organisations which united to bring attention to the refugee issue signed the statement below.
The refugee’s right to live should be the utmost priority!
The increasing problems associated with the refugees and their plight resulting from the escalation of recent events demanded that this press conference become necessary.
As previously stated it is estimated Turkey plays host to over 2 million refugees, clearly demonstrating Turkey’s hospitality and generosity a fact which reflects shamefully on the international community. We have come face to face with a big problem it is no longer sufficient to deal with this crisis by sharing our homes and sharing our food. Every day we hear a new incident; In Edirne for instance there was a killing of 9 Afghani refugees, 3 of whom were children, a fatal boating accident when refugees were trying to reach the Romanian and Bulgarian border, the plight of asylum seeking Uyghurs stuck in Thailand trying to make their way to Turkey and who face the very real possibility of being sent back to China for execution. These are just some of the tragic scenarios we are forced to face.
On the other hand you have, as winter approaches, refugees without homes and shelter, deaths and illnesses resulting from the cold. There are also repeated fatalities in areas where refugees are concentrated. Then there are the situation of those who, just because of their clothes and physical appearances, are sent back by the processing centers, sent back to the places in which they were fleeing death. The fact that these centers are unhygienic and unsafe is also another matter of concern for us.
Curently the possibility of the Aleppo Corridor being shut down means that there is a real likelihood of another wave of refugees estimated to be around 2 million and this is also worrying for us. The number of these poor, helpless mass of people is growing by the day a fact which must surely delight those involved in human trafficking.
There is the danger that this growth could turn human trafficking into a bigger organization. The lack of effective controls regarding this matter means that sexual abuse, forced marriages, organ trafficking, abuse of laborers is likely to climb even further, all of which adds to our sense of concern and worry.
We are worried because we are facing a rather complex problem and there is a untrue perception among the leaders and the general population that we have things under control.
We are worried because along with the growing number of refugees there is a growing feeling of negativity in the media and stigma towards refugees in the public eye. Often they are described with language such as “illegal immigrants” -language which discriminates and otherizes the refugee.
We are worried because although the development of rules and regulations are reaching their completion there are certain mechanisms in control which prevent them from being put into practice. A refugee who managed to escape war and death without his passport is unfairly branded an “illegal immigrant” and they are denied any kind of rights by employers.
We, the civil servant societies who have signed the statement declare that:
1. We are not just facing a simple refugee problem, associated with this crisis there is a growing problem of human trafficking and prostitution and other associated problems.
2. The Department for Immigration should immediately activate with all of its relevant bodies.
3. The mechanisms which control and hinder refugees when making applications be lifted.
4. The increasing number of refugees or introduction of effective judicial institutions related to the facts caused by refugees or if necessary, that the establishment of issue-specific institutions.
5. Those organizations or rings engaged in illegal immigration, prostitution and human trafficking and who take advantage of the plight of refugees should be averted with harsh punishments to punish and deter them.
6. The refugees should urgently be provided with appropriate shelter to protect them in winter.
7. To deal with the next wave of refugees which is looming before us we are obliged generate efficient and effective solutions. In order to do this we must observe the needs of the refugees and unite with other civil society organizations and an analysis must be made of the needs-expectations-risks-solutions.
8. To deal with negative perceptions of refugees language which discriminates, marginalizes and accuses thef refugee should be abandoned in favour of the motto “the Earth is for all of us” and use a more inclusive, compassionate language which prioritizes refugee right to life.
With kind respect to relevant officials and to the public.
The civil service societies who signed this notice:
International Refugee Rights Association
The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH)
The Association for Human Rights and Solidarity with the Oppressed
Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants
Association for Solidarity with Refugees
East Turkestan Education and Solidarity Association