Ankara, 16 August 2017 – Yesterday, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas visited the Turkish city Gaziantep, which is located near the Syrian border, and took a closer look ar the work of the representative office of the International Organization for Migration (UN/IOM) and the living conditions of the refugees in the Nizip container.
The representative office of UN/IOM focuses on identifying and providing first aid to the Syrian families who have had to abandon their homes due to war and violence. Additionally, a lot of work goes into ensuring the continuance of children’s education. “It is noteworthy that 700 school buses are kept in operation daily to help children attend school,” said Prime Minister Ratas.
The representative office of UN/IOM works closely with Federal Foreign Office of Germany that helps to unite families by bringing the refugees in Turkey to live alongside their relatives in Germany.
In the afternoon, the Prime Minister visited the Nizip-2 container camp where he received a thorough overview of the organisation of the camp and living conditions of the refugees, including an overview of the work of local educational institutions and how recreational activities are conducted.
“Turkey, together with international organisations, is striving hard to provide refugees a decent living environment. Living conditions that the Turkish authorities have managed to establish in the Nizip-2 camp are desirable to many other refugees. It is important that children and young people are able to continue their education and adults can go to work. Although this is not the life they had back at home in Syria, it gives the promise of a smooth transition to normal life once the war is over,” Prime Minister Ratas said.
In spring 2016, the European Union and Turkey signed an agreement, which largely stopped the flow of illegal immigrants to Europe through Turkey. Currently, more than 3 million refugees live in Turkey, most of whom have come from Syria.
A recent survey by Harvard Business School and Boğaziçi University showed that 90 percent of Syrian refugees want to return home after the war ends. Only six percent of them answered that they would like to live in Europe.
The European Union established a refugee fund of 3 billion euros from which projects that aim to improve the living conditions of refugees will be financed during this year and the next. The fund has been launched in full volume and the contribution of Estonia is 2.8 million euros. Estonia has also fulfilled the refugee resettlement article of the agreement between Turkey and the European Union and will continue to do so on a voluntary basis.
The Prime Minister was hosted by Mayor of Gaziantep Fatma Şahin. The partner city of Tartu, Gaziantep is well informed of the life in Estonia and values both cultural as well as economic ties. Mayor Şahin gave Prime Minister Ratas a complete overview of the development of the region, the assistance given to the refugees and the security threats due to the close vicinity of the Syrian border to the city.
Last evening, Prime Minister Ratas headed to the capital of Turkey, Ankara, where he is scheduled to meet with the Turkish government leaders, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his colleague Binali Yıldırım, today. The meetings will focus on issues important to the European Union and Turkey, such as migration and the situation of refugees, security and the fight against terrorism, and also the relations between Estonia and Turkey.
Photos of the meetings: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/9r01mee86j8gvt7/AAA72vCT9tE6fe6ORAPmGm_ka?dl=0
The use of photographs is allowed for all with reference to the author (Triin Oppi/Government Communication Office).