Principles of the EU must be protected – Deniz Demircioglu

Protecting the diversity and unity of the European Union and ensuring citizens of member states live in harmony are the goals of the EU. Issues concerning refugees and asylum seekers must be addressed on many levels – with ongoing infrastructure as well as humanitarian investment, Deniz Demircioğlu, Director of Socio Economic Consultancy for WYG in the Middle East and North Africa will argue at this year's ACE International Conference, on 15 June, in London.

In order to understand the problems caused by migration, all relevant parties must be placed under the microscope, she will say. People have sought refuge away from their homelands over many centuries for various reasons. In this day and age, people migrate because of poverty, conflicts, and violence in their countries, in the hope to find better living conditions for themselves and their families. 

To accommodate refugees, for short-term or long-term, a country requires adequate infrastructure. This includes the building of premises for accommodation, as well as enabling access to basic needs such as clean water, electricity and food. Furthermore, access to health services, legal and psychological counselling, education for all ages, access to employment are essential components of accommodating refugees in their new circumstances. Promoting social inclusion, enabling integration to society, raising awareness about the needs of refugees are also parts of the infrastructural changes needed. 

With a population of almost 80 million, Turkey has tried its best to accommodate refugees. Since the beginning of conflicts in Syria, 2,748,367 Syrians have fled to Turkey and many more to neighbouring countries as well as EU member states. Since 2012, Turkey has invested heavily in building accommodation for Syrian refugees both in terms of camps and providing housing assistance in cities. For camps near the Syrian border, which is the initial point of arrival of many refugees, investment has covered physical, social and psychological features such as building camps, establishing sanitary needs, providing guidance and removing social barriers. 

The European Union and its Member States are an invaluable part of the international response to assist refugees from Syria. More than €5 billion have been mobilised for relief and recovery assistance to Syrians in their country and to refugees and their host communities in neighbouring countries. In addition, the EU has pledged €3 billion at the 'Supporting Syria' conference held in London. The €445 million EU humanitarian assistance to the Syria crisis for 2016 will continue addressing the needs of Syrian refugees and host communities in neighbouring countries. The need for a comprehensive EU policy framework for Syria is among the hot topics in the EU agenda. 

There is no doubt that Britain has been among the major contributors of humanitarian assistance for Syrian refugees both through financial means and social needs. NGOs as well as governmental organizations have provided food, shelter and counsel for Syrians living in camps and various cities in the hosting countries. Britain’s dedication to providing much needed humanitarian assistance can be understood through over £1 billion spent on providing support, such as food, shelter, medical care and clean drinking water for people affected by the conflict, both inside Syria and for refugees. The total UK humanitarian funding for the response to the Syria crisis is close to £40million; £21.5m to meet needs in Syria and £18m for refugees in neighbouring countries. DFID’s budget for humanitarian aid to Syria for 2016 and 2017 is given at over £60 million, proving its dedication on assisting Syria. 

With BREXIT on the agenda, it is a possibility that Britain may part ways with the European Union. However, its dedication to provide humanitarian assistance for refugees will not be affected. Through government bodies and non-governmental organizations, Britain will continue to support building the physical and social infrastructure needs of Syrian refugees in their hosting countries. 

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