A 24-member delegation of leading members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) – led by its President Anne Brasseur – is to visit Turkish refugee centres on the border with Syria to see at first hand Turkey’s efforts to deal with the large numbers of refugees fleeing conflict in the region.
Top parliamentarians from 20 countries* – heading political groups or national delegations at PACE – will fly to Gaziantep on 15 June, ahead of World Refugee Day (20 June), to visit the Elbeyli and Nizip centres in the region. They are due to hear directly from residents and administrators, as well as visiting accommodation, schooling, health care and employment facilities in the camps.
Speaking on the eve of the visit, PACE President Anne Brasseur said: “Two million refugees from Syria and Iraq have so far fled to Turkey and been provided with asylum. Having recently had the opportunity to see this for myself, I am hugely impressed with the warm welcome that Turkey has given to these desperate people, spending billions of dollars to keep them safe and living in decent conditions, as well as helping them to integrate. There have also been great efforts by local communities and authorities, as well as residents. Europe as a whole benefits from this, and should do more to help."
The President added that the aim of the visit was to allow European parliamentarians to receive a first-hand impression of the situation, in order to encourage debates in national parliaments.
Earlier, in Istanbul, the delegation is due to be welcomed by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavuşoğlu, and briefed on the refugee situation on the border by the head of the Prime Minister’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), UNHCR’s top official in Turkey and a leading British academic on refugee law.
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* The delegation includes parliamentarians from: Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Republic of Moldova, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.