THO Experts: "Refugee Crisis Requires EU and the UN to Come to Terms with It"

March 8, 2016

The Turkish Heritage Organization (THO) continued to emphasize the humanitarian aspect of the Syrian refugee crisis by bringing Turkish authorities closer to American experts and decision-makers

As EU and Turkey are working on a new deal to curb the migrant crisis, THO continued to draw attention to the issue with its teleconference series. "How to Manage the Refugee Crisis." brought together Dr. Fuat Oktay, President of the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD); Dr. Nora Fisher Onar, Visiting Scholar at George Washington University's Institute for Middle East Studies; and Professor James Gelvin of the University of California Los Angeles.

AFAD staff welcoming Syrian refugees in Suruc, Turkey

Dr. Oktay characterized the state of Turkey in the refugee crisis and indicated that over 2.7 million Syrian refugees were living in Turkey. He indicated that in the border city Kilis, refugees were now outnumbering the residents. AFAD President told that their top priority at this point was to provide education for Syrian children so that there would not be a "lost generation". According to Dr. Oktay, nearly 300 thousand Syrian children have access to primary education. However, higher education continues to be an area of concern for AFAD. Dr. Oktay also highlighted the limited financial contributions of prominent international organizations such as the United Nations, UNICEF and the EU and called for a substantial increase in aid.

Professor Gelvin argued that the only permanent solution to the refugee crisis was to end the ongoing civil war in Syria. According to Gelvin, critical political shifts such as Daesh's transition into a global organization, which made it weaker and helped gain more enemies, improved relations between Iran and the United States and Russia's support for the Assad regime, which by balancing the sides, could act as an incentive for the negotiating table, could be interpreted as signs of promising optimism. 

Dr. Onar argued that unlike Turkey, which has a strong history of caring for refugees dating back to Spanish refugees in the Ottoman Empire, Europe is having an identity and value crisis as migrants to Europe grow. Drawing attention to Europe's lack of commitment and support, she indicated that based on its demographic statistics, the EU's current share of refugees stand at .02% of the population therefore the EU "clearly has the capacity" to increase its support. Dr. Onar argued that many of the concerns that EU has regarding its long-term demographic profile, such as worker deficits and population imbalances, could simply be resolved through the Syrian refugees. 


Turkish Heritage Organization