A UN representative said Thursday that more support should be provided to Turkey and other countries hosting Syrians due to the coronavirus pandemic’s heavy burden on refugees as well as the countries hosting them.
“We advocate for more support to be provided by the international community to Turkey and also to all neighboring countries hosting Syrians in this 11th year,” Philippe Leclerc, the Representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Turkey, told Anadolu Agency.
Leclerc said responding to a refugee crisis must be a global and shared responsibility.
Remarking that the Syrian conflict after 10 years is the “tragedy of the 21st century,” he emphasized that the pandemic is stretching the capacities of the states to respond to the needs of both their citizens and the refugees.
Leclerc said the Global Compact on Refugees aims at easing the pressures on host countries, enhancing refugee self-reliance, expanding access to third-country solutions and supporting conditions in countries of origin for returns in safety and dignity.
He said the compact provides the necessary basis for sharing the responsibility on countries with a heavy population of refugees.
“More should be done in the spirit of the Global Compact on Refugees, including financial aid, more resettlement places and complementary pathways at a time Turkey is hosting 4 million people in difficult conditions because of the pandemic,” he added.
Leclerc noted that the number of Syrian refugees had shown little decline over the past few years and the lives of refugees have been becoming more difficult.
While funding is critical to address immediate, increasing humanitarian needs, international solidarity, which is essential in refugee situations, has to commit to long-term financial support to host countries, according to Leclerc.
He pointed out that everyone should be able to access health facilities and services including vaccines and the pandemic will only be brought under control when vaccines are available on an equal basis to all people regardless of their status.
Leclerc reminded that Turkey provided refugees in need with free access to protective equipment, tests and medication for COVID-19 irrespective of whether they have social security.
“As a positive approach, we are happy to see that Turkey included refugees and migrants in the vaccination program as well,” he said.
Noting the significance of resettlement to a third country, Leclerc said it can save the lives of some of the most vulnerable refugees and give them new hope.
“The gap between needs and actual resettlement has never been so big. While UNHCR continues to search for durable solutions for all refugees, resettlement places made available by third countries remain very limited globally,” he added.
*Writing by Dilan Pamuk in Ankara
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