Turkey on Saturday marked the World Refugee Day by calling on the international community to show solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We hope that the World Refugee Day will lead to a period, where the number of refugees will decrease, durable solutions both in terms of quality and quantity will increase and further solidarity with these people and host countries will be displayed,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Underlining that COVID-19 has further exacerbated the conditions of the vulnerable persons, it said protecting refugees and asylum seekers and ensuring their rapid and efficient access to basic services, especially health-care have become even more essential.

Turkey, as the largest refugee-hosting country in the world, has taken necessary measures to protect these people and inform them on the pandemic, it added.

It also stressed that Turkey drew attention to the situation of refugees during the pandemic and emphasized the need for international cooperation.

“Improving the living conditions of refugees and asylum seekers and finding durable solutions to their problems are common responsibility and duty of the international community,” it said, calling on all stakeholders, especially donor countries, to take action in line with a more equitable burden and responsibility-sharing.

It also invited all stakeholders to implement the UN’s Global Compact on Refugees initiative established in 2018.

“We remind that the right to seek asylum emanating from international law cannot be invoked, refugees and asylum seekers may not be subjected to inhumane treatment, cannot be pushed back and in this regard, all countries should respect their obligations arising from international human rights conventions and 1951 Geneva Convention,” it said.

Turkey ranks first among the refugee-hosting countries with 4 million refugees, the majority of whom are Syrians who fled the brutal civil war in their country.

Since originating in China last December, the pandemic has claimed over 460,000 lives in 188 countries and regions. The US, Brazil and Russia are currently the world’s worst-hit countries.

Some 8.67 million cases have been reported worldwide, while some 4.25 million have recovered so far, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

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