At UN, Turkish Prime Minister urges action to end Syrian crisis
30 September 2015 – Recalling the heart-rending story of the little boy whose lifeless body washed up on a beach in Turkey last month, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu today urged the United Nations to take swift action to address the deepening crisis in Syria and to protect the millions of people "fleeing war and tyranny."
"The tragic story of the three-year-old Aylan should serve as a reminder of what the UN should stand for," Mr. Davutoglu said, adding that the child's body had washed ashore after a boat his family was on capsized in the Aegean Sea. "[They were] trying to escape from the indiscriminate barrel bombs in his town somewhere in Syria, onto an imagined land of hope, anywhere in Europe."
The Prime Minister declared: "This tragedy will not end before the people of Syria have a legitimate Government that truly represents their will and enjoys their full consent. Until then, the international community must act swiftly to provide them safety in their homeland, a 'safe zone,' free from aerial bombardment by the regime and ground assault by Da'esh [also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL] other terrorist organizations.
Turkey, for its part, has offered protection for two million Syrians and 200,000 Iraqis fleeing conflict, calling this the largest number of refugees anywhere in the world.
"And our doors will remain open. And our hearts will remain open," he said.
To date, he said, 66,000 Syrian babies had been born in Turkey; 6,000 would-be migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean; 55,000 sea-borne migrants have been rescued by Turkish lifeguards; 5 million Syrians have fled chemical weapons and indiscriminate bombing; and 12 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), almost half of which are children, are "in desperate need of help."
With all this in mind, Mr. Davutoglu said his delegation had proposed the inclusion of the item 'Global awareness of the tragedies of irregular migrants in the Mediterranean basin with a specific emphasis on Syrian asylum-seekers' in the Agenda of the Assembly's 70th session.
That proposal had ben accepted last week and would provide an opportunity to examine viable responses to the tragedy of migrants, through partnership between countries of origin, destination and transit. "This is now a priority agenda for all humanity," he said.
Mr. Davutoglu also turned to other issues of concern, saying "the Palestinian tragedy continues unabated." He also welcomed the raising of the Palestinian flag at UN Headquarters today which, he said, would give Palestine "equal footing at the table," and ultimately lead to equitable and sustainable peace.
Turning his attention to the subject of terrorism, he said that it was without justification and it was "patently mistaken" to affiliate terrorism with any religion. He noted the rise of Da'esh, as well as the increase in the number of foreign terrorist fighters in the region.
"This threat needs to be addressed at the source," he said.
He then noted the link between development and global stability, saying that Turkey had given $3.5 billion in official development aid and that it wished to see that "no one is left behind," particularly women and the most vulnerable, as well as refugees and IDPs.
Mr. Davutoglu also said that Turkey, as the Chair of the Global Forum on Migration and Development for 2014-15, looked to promote the linkages between these two subjects.
He closed his statement by echoing the calls of other leaders for UN reform, particularly with regard to the Security Council.
"The UN must remain relevant and effective," said Mr. Davutoglu. "The change in the UN is not comprehensive enough to make it fit for purpose."
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