Statement by H.E. Y. Halit Çevik, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN in the Briefing on “Building resilience and capacity of African countries, regional and sub-regional institutions to pre-empt and respond to humanitarian crises and disasters”

Y.Halit Çevik 01.10.2013
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Distinguished representatives of regional economic communities,

Let me start by thanking OCHA and Office of the Special Advisor on Africa for organizing this meaningful event and for giving me the opportunity to speak here.

We are at the stage of crafting the post-2015 development agenda right now. New bodies are being formed. New set of goals are being defined. Development issues are at the top of the UN agenda.

The discussions held during the high level meetings last week in the General Assembly underlined the fact that while the world has made significant progress in achieving development goals, this progress has not been even among and within countries. That is evident especially in Africa.

The continent has recorded significant progress in development particularly in the last decade. It is at the same time true that Africa needs further support from international partners and problems of the African countries differ from each other. While some African countries are confronted with complex emergency situations, some others are faced with drought and famine. Unfortunately, most of the affected countries lack adequate resources, capacity and capability to timely and effectively respond to such challenges.

Importance of security in Africa is beyond any question. Without security, sustainability of development and progress is hard to be ensured. This remains one of the main obstacles on the way to development in the continent. Situation on the ground might seem risky in certain regions. Recently a terrorist attack claimed the life of a Turkish personnel in our Embassy in Mogadishu. However sad it might be, we will not be discouraged by terrorist attacks. We will keep our humanitarian and development assistance in Africa.

We all know what the needs are. The only thing we need to demonstrate is solidarity.

The theme of today’s discussion is highly relevant in that sense.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to briefly explain what Turkey does on this very important issue.

As an emerging donor country, Turkey is keen to share its development experience with the countries in need of assistance. As H.E. Abdullah Gül, President of Turkey, put it succinctly in his speech last Tuesday, “humanitarian diplomacy is a key objective of Turkish foreign policy”, Its reflection can be best seen in Africa.

Turkey’s approach is based on the combination of humanitarian and development assistance, with a holistic approach and without prioritizing either of the two. This approach supports capacity- and institution-building in all areas.

Another element is the relevance of expertise and solutions offered by Turkey to host country’s social and political environments, which draws on Turkey’s past and current challenges. This creates a sense of shared experience effect, which in turn leads to a more genuine partnership and facilitates communication.

This brings me to the third point, which is the speed of delivery of the expertise. The speed of response by Turkey to a request by a recipient state may be as short as few weeks.

Distinguished Guests,

This being the framework, I now would like to focus on the implementation aspect.

Somalia is a case in point. The combination of humanitarian and development assistance of Turkey is reflected in its huge investment in the human capital, infrastructure and basic services in Somalia. Turkey provides large-scale expertise and training programs, especially in the health and education sectors there. We at the same time help to improve the transportation network, drill water wells, provide equipment and facilities for municipal services, build hospitals and health centers. We also regularly contribute to the budget of the Somali Federal Government to ensure the financial sustainability of our partnership.

Turkey’s presence on the ground facilitates and accelerates the identification of needs and their delivery. In addition to our Embassy in Mogadishu and the Office of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), we are planning to open two regional development offices in Galmudug and Puntland.

In addition to Somalia, TIKA conducts projects in 36 other African countries. In cooperation with other state departments and Turkish NGOs, TIKA focuses on building resilience by improving agricultural production and by training local communities in farming techniques, mainly in the Sahel countries. We also improve access to drinking water by drilling water wells and regularly keeping their maintenance. Turkish government agencies also train experts from African countries in cooperation with TİKA in areas such as health, education and agriculture.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The host countries have the primary responsibility and they are the ones to determine their priorities. We must continue to share our experiences and continue our partnerships in line with the vision and strategy defined by the host governments. A holistic approach to building resilience is essential. This is why we have a comprehensive and multi-dimensional commitment and support to African countries. Turkey increased the number of its Embassies in Africa from 12 to 34 in the last four years and Turkish Airlines now flies to 36 destinations in 27 countries in Africa. Furthermore, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency has eight Coordination Offices in the Continent. Finally, Turkey allocates 200 million dollars annually for project proposals to be submitted by Least Developed Countries, majority of which are African countries.

In line with this approach, Turkey will host the World Humanitarian Summit in the first half of 2016. Building resilience will be one of the main themes in the Summit and we are looking forward to working with all the stakeholders in the process leading up to this important event.

I thank you for your attention.