As a result of wars and instability in all parts of the world, nearly 65.6 million people were forced to flee their homes and migration has become one of the most serious issues of our times. The humanitarian tragedy, called as refugee crisis with the arrival of more than one million people on the European shores in 2015, is in fact a crisis of respect for fundamental human rights and universal values.
Turkey, who has always stood by the oppressed, is the largest recipient country which hosts the greatest number of refugees in the world, with 4 million refugees, of which 3.5 million are Syrians. Turkey has approached the matter in the framework of universal humanitarian values from the beginning and has maintained its work and activities in many areas ranging from migration policy to integration and from protection of women and children to international cooperation. Syrians hosted by Turkey have been given temporary protection and ensured cost-free access to education and health services.
Turkey continues with efforts at the international level to alleviate the effects of increasing mass arrivals of migrants. In this scope, a legal and safe pathway has been provided to migrants fleeing persecution through the implementation of a unique model of cooperation outlined in the EU-Turkey Statement of 18 March 2016. Most importantly, the loss of lives in the Aegean Sea has dramatically been reduced as a result of this cooperation.
Regretfully, at the same time in some Council of Europe and European Union Member States, the obligations of international protection were disregarded, walls were built denying refugees their right to seek asylum , mass arrivals of migrants resulted in a state of emergency, children, often unaccompanied, were made to stay outside the borders, ports were closed to migrant boats carrying also children and pregnant women and individual asylum applications were not properly evaluated. The system of values on which the European Union is founded met its greatest challenge with the mass arrivals and unfortunately many EU Member States did not respond to the humanitarian crisis in line with universal humanitarian values. The price was paid by those who set off to an EU Member State seeking a safe future.
Unfortunately, to this day, only a few countries disproportionally bear the responsibility of sheltering these people fleeing from persecution. Our expectation from the international community is the fulfilment of these obligations in line with international law and principle of burden-sharing. Countries need to speedily fulfil their commitments for resettlement and accept a greater number of refugees.
Migration is not a matter than can be managed only through a security-oriented approach. The resolution of the issue of irregular migration, which is about people, necessitates a humanitarian approach. As long as a significant amount of the money and efforts spent on border control and security are not channelled to meet the needs of the refugees and to remedy the root causes of irregular migration, this problem will continue to dramatically increase. In this framework, while burden-sharing is a necessary step to alleviate the current grievous situation, it is not sufficient by itself. At this point in time, eliminating the reasons for irregular migration and the development of constructive and inclusive solutions regarding migrants are the most significant obligations of the international community.