Turkey’s First Lady Highlights Turkey’s Work to Assist Refugees in New York City
The First Lady of Turkey, Her Excellency Emine Erdogan, spoke at The SETA Foundation at Washington D.C.’s event in New York City during the U.N. General Assembly high level meetings week. The event focused on humanitarian challenges, more specifically Turkey’s role in humanitarian assistance. The event was held at a crucial time when foreign ministers and government heads of state were in New York City to discuss urgent concerns at the U.N. The First Lady provided insight into how and where Turkey is providing humanitarian assistance, not only to the more than 3.5 million refugees that Turkey hosts, but to other countries in the region who are assisting large populations of displaced people.
During her address, Mrs. Erdogan emphasized that humanitarian action and collaboration strengthens the international community. Additionally, it strengthens the resilience of the humanitarian assistance that aims to relieve the stressors of the numerous humanitarian issues that exist in the world today. Reflecting on a visit to Myanmar, Mrs. Erdogan discussed the women and children she saw and spoke with in the Rohingya refugee camps. She alluded to the real dangers that surround these refugees, stemming from the world’s lack of conscience. At a time when states are lowering their refugee acceptance numbers and limiting assistance, her call to focus on refugees was much needed during the high level meetings week.
Furthermore, in her address, Mrs. Erdogan spoke to the numerous institutions within Turkey that are working to provide humanitarian assistance across the region. In addition to these institutions, she reflected on the assistance civil society is providing for refugees. The vast array of institutions, organizations, and civil society that are committed to assisting refugees provides a much needed example that humanitarian aid and assistance works best when people collaborate across sectors and work together to effectively and efficiently assist those in need. The U.N. promotes collaboration, and the global compact on refugees is one such mechanism that the U.N. is using to address collaboration across governments. Due to the high amount of humanitarian aid needed in the world today, no single entity can fully provide assistance. Mrs. Erdogan’s note on the various sectors that work within Turkey to provide aid to the refugees it hosts is important to draw upon, as Turkey currently hosts over 3.5 million refugees, an amount larger than any other country.
Mrs. Erdogan contended that humanitarian aid policy should be created to alleviate dependency on donors, which would prevent further crises from emerging surrounding the refugees. At a time when funding for humanitarian assistance continually falls short of its needed budget, crafting policies that would alleviate some of the donor burden would greatly improve the livelihoods of the refugees. Part of these policies would be to better equip and train refugees to be productive members in the community and become sustainable on their own. Mrs. Erdogan reflected on programs that provided women with vocational trainings, which allowed them to provide for their children in camps. Creating processes that can be transcended across borders and cultures to train individuals to become productive in their communities could be a vital tool to decrease dependence on donors.
Mrs. Erdogan contributed to The SETA Foundation at Washington D.C.’s event that called attention to the humanitarian challenges that exist in the world today. She provided insight into how Turkey is assisting refugees and working to alleviate the stress host countries are feeling as a result of their generosity. As the U.S., a former leader in refugee matters, lowers its refugee cap further for the upcoming year, the U.N. will need other countries to lead assistance efforts. Despite hardening views that are arising in various countries, Mrs. Erdogan shows that there are still many people and countries committed to supporting refugees.