We cannot sit back and watch this humanitarian tragedy

Published 16.06.2015 21:58
Updated 16.06.2015 21:59

A humanitarian plight is taking place on Turkey's border with Syria. Again, Turkey is facing a huge wave of refugees as the Turkmen and Arab population of the Syrian town of Tal Abyad is crossing into Turkey through the Akçakale border gate. Turkey has a clear perspective of this issue and regards Syrian people, who are the victims of a civil war, as a humanitarian problem, keeping its own political, economic and demographic balances in the background. The EU should acknowledge the burden that Turkey shoulders regarding Syrian refugees. Concerning the more than 2 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) President Anne Brasseur said the following just two days ago: "When I visited the Elbeyli refugee camp on the Syrian border a few weeks ago, I was deeply moved by what I found. I saw children, some born into the misery of war in neighboring Syria, laughing as they played. I saw young people learning new skills. I saw disabled and elderly refugees being treated with dignity and respect. The numbers are huge; so far, around 260,000 Syrian refugees are accommodated in a series of 23 camps strung along the southern border with Syria. Another 1.5 million are living in Turkey's towns and cities, absorbed by the local population. As a result, Turkey has become the largest refugee-hosting country in the world. Despite the size of the challenge, the emergency response of the authorities - according to the UNHCR [U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees] - has been of a consistently high standard. It has spent an incredible $5.5 billion on emergency assistance to refugees to date. The generosity shown by Turkey and the Turkish people puts the rest of Europe to shame."

Brasseur spoke about a Turkish model in her remarks. Turkey, particularly the Elbeyli refugee camp in the province of Kilis, is the best example that describes this model. Elbeyli is not a refugee camp, but rather a refugee city that opens its doors to all victims of the Syrian civil war without inflicting discrimination against sect, religion or ethnic identity. Refugee women and children are provided with the same education and healthcare services as Turkish citizens. In this refugee city, there are no Syrian refugees who cannot go to school or who have unresolved health problems. Moreover, the Turkish state is opening vocational courses to help them acquire skills to find jobs. As the ever-growing refugee influx also threatens Turkey's current refugee model, the world needs to approach this question more seriously and look closely at what Turkey is doing.

Certainly, Western coalition forces, especially the U.S., need to wage a more effective and genuine fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) to increase such refugee camps and to find a permanent end to the problems facing the desperate Syrian refugee population. In this regard, the isolation and destabilization of Turkey depending on the growing migrant population will escalate into a major problem not only for Turkey, but also for the West, in the future. The change of the region's demographic structure in an artificial way will create serious problems in two important areas. First, economic activities will suffer setbacks depending on the overall basic necessities of the region and this will lead to serious problems regarding economic security. It cannot be ignored that the region is a transition point for Iraqi, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern economies. Second, the region is of capital importance for energy production and trade. As such, the destabilization of the region will unfold a major problem with supply security.

The fight that is being conducted against ISIS by coalition forces serves the purpose of ISIS, which is nourished by wars and terror. The battle, which is limited to airstrikes, puts the local community between the bombs of ISIS and coalition forces. The Democratic Union Party's (PYD) seizure of the region and the "Kurdification" of the local community will not ensure stability for energy resources and energy transits in the region in the medium and long run. Worse still, it will create serious problems with energy supply security in the long run. The supply security can be ensured only if energy fields that are at the helm of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are commercialized through Turkey. In this regard, Syria's Latakia port is of strategic importance. It is of vital importance that the region's natural gas resources are connected to the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) that reaches Europe through Turkey. It is not possible to offer Mosul-Kirkuk oil resources to the world other than through Turkey. Therefore, agreements signed between Turkey and the KRG should not be forgotten. Here, the seizure of energy supplies by armed structures like the PYD, which does not have a clear position, will lead to major problems. Turkey cannot sit back and watch this situation that leads to humanitarian tragedy and jeopardizes its border security. Turkey should call the whole world to duty and say that this tragedy is the problem of all humanity.

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