“Global challenges require global responses, and the international community must work in harmony to try to alleviate the effects of the coronavirus epidemic on the vulnerable refugees”, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday during a webinar organized by the Antalaya Diplomacy Forum titled “The situation of refugees and other displaced people during the pandemic: The need for international cooperation”.
Leading diplomats from Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan and Lebanon, along with representatives of the EU, the WHO and the UN, took part in the virtual conference organized by the Diplomacy Forum of Antalya.
The Turkish Foreign Minister noted that the pandemic situation had caused further challenges for the displaced due to the difficulty of integrating them into health systems, supply chain problems, border closures and the economic impact of the epidemic.
He argued that a stronger and more effective international response to the grievances of the displaced was extremely important, noting that short-term solutions such as cash assistance programs could be a good start.
“As Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Pakistan will agree with me, in their capacity as countries hosting many refugees, we need solidarity”, Cavusoglu said, adding that the Turkish government supported global solidarity in the midst of a pandemic by providing medical assistance to a total of 125 countries.
Turkish officials have raised the issue of refugees on the agenda of international organizations such as the G20, MIKTA, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Turkish Council, and tried to raise awareness among the international community about the plight of vulnerable refugees in the midst of the pandemic, Mevlut Cavusoglu continued.
“We have a common goal; to protect refugees and displaced people and to offer them a dignified life, so we need cooperation and action”, he added.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said his country would continue to do everything possible to provide refugees with the basic necessities in cooperation with its partners.
Safadi noted that global solidarity was needed to alleviate the coronavirus effects on refugees, adding that co-operation was essential to ensure the “voluntary” and “safe” return of refugees under international law.
Nassif Youssef Hitti, Lebanon’s top diplomat, called on the international community to expand aid to the distribution of refugee burdens, saying host countries were in need of more support on the issue of refugees and internally displaced people.
Hitti added that a political settlement in Syria, where the civil war had devastated the country since 2011, will help host countries and the world overcome the refugee issue.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood said that millions of Afghan refugees had fled the country due to the conflict-ridden environment in the region.
Responsibility and the distribution of burdens are necessary in these difficult times of pandemic, he said, urging the international community to adopt a constructive approach to helping refugees in need, as the virus spreads.
“The virus does not see race, religion, nationality or color”, he said, adding that “it is time to show the true meaning of not leaving anyone behind”.
Fillippo Gradhi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said refugees’ complaints and the challenges facing host countries should not go unnoticed during the pandemic. /ibna