Anne Brasseur, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), speaking at the end of a high-profile visit to refugee centres on the Syrian border, has highlighted Turkey’s “extraordinary welcome” for Syrian refugees – and urged other European countries to do more to help.
“I am both impressed and ashamed by what I have seen – impressed by what Turkey is doing to provide safe haven to two million refugees from Syria and Iraq, and ashamed that the rest of Europe is failing to give the country more support,” said the President.
She was accompanied on the visit to “container cities” and tented camps near Gaziantep by a 25-member delegation of leading members of the Assembly, from 20 different countries, whom she invited to return to their home parliaments to raise awareness of the situation ahead of World Refugee Day (20 June).
“Turkey and its people have been extraordinarily welcoming to their neighbours in distress, spending some 6 billion dollars in providing these refugees with the highest standards of reception and care, while also managing so far to retain the goodwill of host communities,” said Ms Brasseur.
“The EU and individual European countries must now offer much greater financial support to Turkey to continue this great effort,” said the President, pointing out that a new wave of Syrian refugees had arrived only this week.
“Helping Turkey to provide a meaningful life and future to these people, so that one day they may return to their homes, also reduces the risk of terrorism or social problems and overspill into other parts of Europe,” she added.
“Our delegation was also impressed by the Syrian refugees we met, who showed great courage and determination in dealing with their plight.”
The President suggested that the Council of Europe Development Bank could – on request – provide significant funding to help Turkey and its local authorities.
She also said she would call for a current affairs debate on the refugee situation during the Assembly’s coming session in Strasbourg.