Statement by H.E. Y. Halit Çevik, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN, in the General Debate of the ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment

Halit Çevik 25.06.2014
Mr. President,
First, I would like to thank you for your opening remarks and extend our gratitude to OCHA, under the leadership of the Under-Secretary-General, for preparing the Secretary-General’s report and for organizing the Humanitarian Affairs Segment.

Mr. President,
The humanitarian landscape has been changing rapidly. New challenges and opportunities emerge. The number and severity of natural and complex emergencies are on the rise. So are the need for more resources. Even if the resources are available, many people in need cannot be reached and assisted effectively due to obstacles that cannot be controlled by humanitarian actors.

Unsolved, underfunded and forgotten crises perpetuate victimization of affected people. They also create protracted displacements, for which host countries have to find long-term resources and solutions. Displaced and affected populations are increasingly seeking shelter and livelihood in urban settings. The consequences of crises extend beyond borders and affect its region in many cases. Many states lack capacity to adequately respond to these emergencies and their burden is not sufficiently shared by the international community.

On the other hand, many states have been increasing their capacities and resources for humanitarian action. New actors are emerging and local initiatives have been gaining more weight in humanitarian action. Ways to use technology and increased coordination among actors are sought with a view to increasing effectiveness of humanitarian operations. Last but not least, there has been a shift in paradigm by investing more on resilience, risk management and preparedness efforts. Mr. President, This fast-changing humanitarian environment must be discussed comprehensively and in an inclusive manner to define the future agenda of humanitarian action. In this regard, we believe that the process leading up to the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit to be held in Turkey in 2016 and the Summit itself will be an important milestone to address this issue. Turkey will continue to fully support the process and invites all stakeholders to actively participate in the discussions. During the Summit process, we hope that the humanitarian system will be able to build strong bridges between the donors and the beneficiaries, with a view to increasing the effectiveness of the humanitarian system.

Mr. President,
The worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st Century has been ongoing unabatedly in Syria. More than three years into the crisis, the suffering of the Syrian people continues with unprecedented intensity. More than 9 million people are in need of assistance in the country. 6.5 million Syrians are internally displaced, which is approximately 20 percent of the internally displaced people worldwide. Almost three million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries. Turkey has mobilized its resources to help Syrians fleeing the conflict. More than one million Syrians have sought shelter in Turkey, 220 thousand of which are in 22 camps along the Syrian border. Their needs are met by the Turkish Government. This includes shelter, food, health, water, sanitation, education and psycho-social support. Unless the humanitarian community comes up with a sound mechanism to ensure access for the delivery of effective assistance inside the country, the situation both in and outside Syria will deteriorate even further. It is therefore imperative for the international community to provide full implementation of the Security Council Resolution 2139 and to ensure unhindered, safe and rapid humanitarian access to the people in need. It is equally important that the international community shares the burden, as well as the responsibility of host countries. Mr. President, In Iraq, there is another emergency that needs immediate attention. The humanitarian situation which has worsened amidst the new surge of violence in Iraq is alarming. Following the armed conflict in Mosul, the number of people who fled the city into the neighboring provinces is in the range of 500 thousand. And this figure could increase dramatically in view of the further deterioration of the situation. Upon the call of the Governorship of Mosul and the KRG authorities, Turkey immediately started delivering humanitarian assistance to the Mosul region as of 11 June 2014. We have also started providing emergency humanitarian assistance to the population displaced from Tal Afar and Sinjar regions. Mr. President, As the two emergencies alone demonstrate, Turkey fulfills its humanitarian responsibilities. Turkey’s helping hand extends beyond its region, reaching out to various geographies including the Balkans, Haiti, Philippines, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Somalia and Central African Republic. The Global Humanitarian Assistance Report indicates that Turkey was the fourth largest donor in 2012. In fact, Turkey is among the few countries that has increased its humanitarian assistance in proportion to its economic growth. In addition, Turkish NGOs and private companies take active part in our national and international humanitarian efforts. Turkey usually delivers humanitarian assistance through its own agencies, operates with low overhead costs, implements humanitarian and development assistance simultaneously and prioritizes the requests and targets of the country in need. This makes Turkish assistance more efficient, rapid and long-term oriented. Mr. President, We must recognize the important link between humanitarian and development assistance. We attach importance to building resilience, improving preparedness and undertaking early recovery efforts that aim to improve capacity, lessen vulnerability and ensure sustainability. We believe that post-2015 development agenda, Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Japan in 2015 and the World Humanitarian Summit in Turkey in 2016 will mark a new era in our understanding on these issues. I thank you.