UN chief urges countries to “match generosity” of Turkey as refugee host

The UN Secretary-General has called on countries to help share the burden of hosting refugees by “matching the generosity” of Turkey.

Antonio Guterres made the remarks during a joint press conference in Istanbul, Turkey with the nation’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.

Turkey remains the largest host country of refugees with over 2.7 million Syrians, according to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.

Jocelyne Sambira reports.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres began his address by saying he had a “huge depth of gratitude” to the Turkish Government and its people.

During the ten year period that he was UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Turkey became the largest refugee-hosting country in the world.

Mr Guterres said he was honoured to start his first bilateral visit to Turkey since being elected Secretary-General.

“And I have witnessed the enormous generosity of the Turkish government and the Turkish people opening their borders, their houses and their hearts to their sisters and brothers coming from Syria but also from many other parts of the world. And this generosity should be matched. This is also the moment to launch an appeal when we see so many borders being closed and when we see so many escaping their responsibilities- this is a moment to appeal for effective burden-sharing and to make sure that the integrity of the international refugee protection regime is maintained.”

Turkey is playing a “very relevant” role in the UN, the Secretary-General said, noting Turkey’s role as a guarantor of power in the Cyprus conference, the lead it took in convening talks in Astana between Syrian rebel groups and its efforts to fight terrorism.

Antonio Guterres also acknowledged the need for Turkey, and governments in general, to protect their states and cities against a putsch or terrorist attack, but he urged for the continued respect of rule of law and human rights.

Turkey is the first leg of a trip that will also take the UN chief to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Egypt.

Source: United Nations Radio