Turkey Deserves More Help for Refugees: UN Chief
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - As he prepares to leave office, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon granted Anadolu Agency a sit-down interview to discuss topics ranging from Syrian refugees to Cyprus reunification talks.
He began by saying Turkey should receive more help for the assistance it is providing to refugees fleeing the Syrian war.
"Turkey and the other countries hosting Syrian refugees ... have borne a huge amount of the responsibility ... and deserve more help from the international community," according to Ban.
“At this time, we have at least 130 million people who need daily humanitarian assistance, including 60 million refugees and displaced people. Turkey has been most generous in accommodating more than 3 million Syrian refugees,” he said. "Currently hosting more than 3 million refugees from neighboring countries, Turkey has the experience, knowledge and tradition to respond to humanitarian crisis."
The Secretary-General urged greater solidarity in order to find new ways for admitting more Syrian refugees and focused on contributions displaced persons could provide for a host country.
"When managed properly, accepting refugees is a win for everyone. Refugees are famously devoted to education and self-reliance. They bring new skills and dynamism into aging workforces," he said.
"Attempts to demonize them are not only offensive; they are factually incorrect. I have been calling on leaders to counter xenophobia and fear mongering with reassurance," he added.
The European Union and Turkey struck a deal in March that stipulated all refugees who reach Europe would be returned to Turkey. Ankara would then benefit from additional funds to help deal with the crisis and the opening of one policy area on accession to EU membership.
“I hope this agreement will be faithfully implemented. Most importantly, there should be a political solution through dialogue,” he said.
The refugee crisis is fueled by the five-year-old war that erupted during the Arab Spring. More than a quarter of a million victims have been killed and 10 million others have been displaced in Syria.
Ban condemned the violence and human rights violations in Syria and although a solution to the conflict has been elusive, he remains optimistic that a diplomatic answer can be found through UN-lead talks.
"I call on the warring sides in Syria to immediately renew their commitment to the cessation of hostilities,” he said. “Instead of bombing civilian areas, all Syrian parties must renew their focus on a political process."
After world powers failed earlier this week to agree on a date to restart stalled talks on Syria, Ban stressed that the UN has been encouraging all sides that there is no military solution to the conflict, and a "negotiated solution" needs to be found.
Since becoming head of the world body, Ban has been trying to put an end to a seemingly endless number of conflicts around the globe.
Perhaps the most intractable is that of Israeli-Palestine, in Syria’s neighborhood.
In speaking to Anadolu Agency, Ban questioned Israel government’s commitment to peace between the two sides with its continued "illegal" encroachment on land intended for a future Palestinian state, that he said not only runs afoul of international law but subverts a two-state solution.
"Demolitions and settlement building raises questions about whether Israel’s ultimate goal is, in fact, to drive Palestinians out of certain parts of the West Bank, thereby undermining any prospect of transition to a viable Palestinian state," he said.
He urged both parties to return to stalled negotiations.