What Türkiye can teach Europe about handling a refugee crisis | Russia-Ukraine war

A brand new refugee disaster has emerged in Europe with the beginning of a battle in Ukraine. In a matter of 4 weeks, some 3.5 million Ukrainians have sought refuge in neighbouring international locations.

Because it contemplates easy methods to deal with this humanitarian disaster, Europe can flip to Türkiye (Turkey) for some classes. In any case, Türkiye has been dealing with refugee waves from the Center East effectively and humanely for a few years, whereas most European nations had been inflicting further struggling on weak victims of battle with their “security-first” asylum insurance policies.

Türkiye has been the primary vacation spot for refugees escaping the Syrian battle for greater than 10 years now. We at present host about 5 million refugees from plenty of international locations, together with 4 million Syrians.

Now we have at all times handled refugees we’re internet hosting with humanity and respect. Turkish individuals welcomed refugees with open arms and fortunately shared their bread with them for years. In contrast to in Europe, the place many politicians routinely resort to anti-immigration rhetoric for fast political achieve, the Turkish management constantly resisted makes an attempt by the home opposition to stoke anti-refugee sentiment within the nation. The Turkish authorities refused to scapegoat refugees within the wake of terror assaults. Refugees, no matter the place they’re from, discovered a real haven in Türkiye.

How did Türkiye accomplish this feat?

First, the Turkish authorities has at all times been clear about why and the way it welcomes refugees within the nation. It has at all times clearly communicated to the general public that battle isn’t the fault of the civilians escaping it. The Turkish individuals, for instance, have been conscious of the dynamics of the battle in neighbouring Syria from the very starting. Our authorities has at all times made an effort to verify the general public at giant is conscious of what’s going on in Syria, and the threats civilians are going through there. Along with an ongoing marketing campaign to lift consciousness, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has personally briefed the Turkish individuals on situations in Syria.

In contrast to lots of their European counterparts, Türkiye’s leaders didn’t permit far-right populism and anti-refugee activism to prosper within the nation. Our authorities has at all times identified that the state and the general public must be on the identical web page for the creation of a profitable refugee coverage. So it made positive to have interaction non-governmental organisations when shaping its refugee insurance policies. Because of this, Turkish non-governmental organisations have confidently supplied much-needed assist to Syrian civilians each inside Türkiye and throughout the border in Syria, considerably lowering the burden on the state.

Second, Türkiye has by no means discriminated in opposition to refugees based mostly on ethnicity, faith, or gender. We, for instance, opened our arms to all Syrians making an attempt to flee the battle: Arabs escaping the brutal Assad regime, Kurds operating away from ISIL (ISIS), and Turkomans persecuted and pushed out by the YPG, all discovered refuge in our nation.

We handled all victims of battle the identical, no matter their ethnicities, their non secular beliefs, or their backgrounds. We understood that selecting and selecting refugees in response to their faith or the color of their pores and skin can be morally reprehensible. We additionally realised that such a discriminatory asylum coverage may set off damaging waves of xenophobia and racism in any nation. As we speak, sadly, some European nations are falling into this lure and welcoming refugees from the battle in Ukraine based mostly on their appearances. Cultural affinity with the victims of a significant navy battle ought to by no means be the premise upon which to forge a refugee coverage.

Third, the success of Türkiye’s refugee coverage – which allowed it to welcome tens of millions of refugees, empower girls, educate youngsters and provides all asylum seekers within the nation a real alternative to rebuild their lives –  was a big achievement contemplating the dearth of correct worldwide solidarity. Certainly, main refugee crises can’t be managed with out worldwide burden-sharing. Türkiye has by no means discovered the sturdy help it wanted from the worldwide neighborhood in the course of the refugee disaster triggered by Syria’s battle, besides when our European allies felt threatened by irregular migration waves. Even then, they noticed it as a safety, not a humanitarian problem, they usually merely tried to make the issue go away by offering some restricted assets to Türkiye. This was no solution to deal with an ally – and it was no means to reply to a humanitarian tragedy that deeply destabilised a whole area.

What Türkiye has achieved by itself within the face of such a scarcity of help is extraordinary and it can’t be anticipated from all international locations. The worldwide neighborhood shouldn’t repeat its previous mistake and abandon the international locations neighbouring Ukraine, that are at present internet hosting many of the refugees from the battle, the best way Europe deserted Türkiye in the course of the Syrian refugee disaster.

Fourth, Türkiye at all times knew the final word decision to any refugee disaster comes from ending its root trigger: wars, navy operations, conflicts. With out critically confronting the primary driver of the refugee inflows, we can’t count on to handle the humanitarian crises successfully. For this reason within the face of a refugee disaster we must always all search battle decision alternatives, recognising that such points can solely be addressed by way of inventive political options, not navy ones.

The West is now making an attempt to extend the prices of its actions in Ukraine for Russia, however it shouldn’t lose sight of the necessity to discover a diplomatic answer for the sake of tens of millions of harmless civilians. The West shouldn’t make the error of treating Ukraine solely as a geopolitical chessboard to counter Russia. Your entire worldwide neighborhood ought to push arduous for diplomacy to finish the battle as quickly as potential, not just for the sake of Ukrainians but additionally to keep up regional and international financial dynamics.

Türkiye has said its place clearly about Ukraine’s territorial integrity and political independence. On the identical time, we should not lose sight of the rising humanitarian disaster. The West should multitask by concurrently contributing to the decision of the battle and addressing the plight of the Ukrainian refugees.

Türkiye’s expertise with the humanitarian penalties of the Syrian battle is deeply related to anybody involved with the implications of what’s taking place in Ukraine.

The West shouldn’t make the identical errors it did in the course of the Syrian disaster. It ought to now go for a humanitarian refugee coverage as a substitute of selecting the simple choice of a securitised method. It’s excessive time for Europe to create an environment the place all refugees are welcome no matter their background. This ought to be coupled with a critical and ongoing dedication to diplomacy to finish the battle as quickly as potential. The choice can be the deepening of racism, xenophobia and discrimination with no roadmap to peace. Türkiye is able to share its expertise and work in direction of the targets of each assembly the humanitarian problem and ending the battle.

The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

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