New hope for internally displaced

01 Oct 2006

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Prepared by the Governorship of Van and UNDP, the Action Plan was officially presented in a meeting in Van on 29 September, with the participation of the Minister of the Interior Abdülkadir Aksu, UN Secretary-General’s Representative on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons Dr. Walter Kaelin, and UN Turkey Coordinator and UNDP Representative Mahmood Ayub.

New Horizons - Van is one of those provinces which are highly populated with Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Turkey. But in spite of all the official efforts, increasing numbers of IDPs and limited resources for effective response are hampering the endeavors to provide a decent level of living standards, befitting Human Rights Principles, to these vulnerable people. Additionally, the heterogeneity amongst the IDPs brings forth the necessity of diversity in aid and service delivery.

Over the last 15 years, governments in Turkey have taken numerous measures to improve the conditions of IDPs in Southeastern and Eastern Anatolia, where Van is located, to ensure their voluntary return in safety, their integration into new communities and that compensation is granted for losses due to various reasons, most significantly, security concerns. These efforts have started to turn into concrete results with the preparation of an Action Plan in recent months for IDPs in the province of Van.

Prepared by the Governorship of Van and UNDP, the Action Plan was officially presented in a meeting in Van on 29 September, with the participation of the Minister of the Interior Abdülkadir Aksu, UN Secretary-General’s Representative on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons Dr. Walter Kaelin, and UN Turkey Coordinator and UNDP Representative Mahmood Ayub.

The Action Plan includes strategic measures such as the resettlement and integration of IDPs, providing basic infrastructure and other social services, social and economic development, awareness raising and communication, and cooperation and partnership with the stakeholders, including IDPs themselves, in the province of Van.

The Plan foresees the facilitation of the safe and smooth return of those IDPs who voluntarily choose to go back to their old homes, and speeding up of the land survey and registry procedures in the rural areas which are now opened to resettlement. The Plan also arranges for the repair and maintenance of the previously abandoned homes, and assists the returnees to adapt to social and economic life and resume their livelihoods. Building model settlements for those IDPs who wish to stay in urban areas and initiating them on vocational entrepreneurship are also among the works indicated in the Action Plan. It is envisaged that the Van Governorship implement a communication strategy to inform IDPs about all these activities.

In his opening address at the meeting, Van Governor Mehmet Niyazi Tanılır said, he was happy to present the Action Plan to concerned parties, adding that it is a social, political and ethical mission to provide the living standards which IDPs deserve.

General Director of the Multilateral Political Affairs of the Turkish Foreign Ministry Ambassador Hasan Göğüş said that following each visit of UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons Dr. Walter Kaelin to Turkey, they witness another big step in resolving the plight of IDPs and that these are not mere coincidences, but deliberate and planned steps to improve the humanitarian conditions of these unfortunate people. Göğüş reassured that Turkey will continue its efforts and international cooperation in good faith.

UN’s Coordinator and UNDP Representative in Turkey Mahmood Ayub said, in supporting the Turkish Government to prepare the Action Plan, their overall objective was to develop what could potentially be an international best practice by Turkey, in providing legal remedies for past losses and durable solutions for IDPs to resume their lives and livelihoods; and that UNDP is proud of the technical assistance provided to the Van Governorship in an area which supports Turkey’s reform process, including the fulfillment of EU’s political criteria. Ayub explained that UNDP has worked on capacity enhancement in IDP response, targeting NGOs, through training events and seminars; and cooperated closely with the Ministry of the Interior and members of the Compensation Commissions, including those appointed by the Bar Associations, to share with them the lessons drawn from international experiences.

Mahmood Ayub emphasized the importance of the “Migration and Internally Displaced Populations in Turkey Survey” which has been conducted by Hacettepe University Institution of Population Studies, but whose results are not released to date, saying “the release of the Survey and its findings represent an important means to further inform the development of regional Action Plans, as well as scaling these into a National Plan of Action with a sound context of the scope of the displacement issue and the extent of required total investment to adequately address the IDP needs”.

UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons Dr. Walter Kaelin congratulated the Government of Turkey on their determination for resolving the issue of the IDPs and for preparing a concrete and complete Action Plan in a short span of seven months. Dr. Kaelin praised the Government for working closely with the civil society in this process, and said that the personal commitment of the Minister of the Interior is a promising indication of the forthcoming successful implementation of the Action Plan.

Minister of the Interior Abdülkadir Aksu explained that they have spent more than 500 thousand dollars for the rehabilitation of IDPs, their response efforts are continuing unwaveringly, and that he believed this Action Plan will set a good model for other provinces experiencing similar problems.

 

Basic Principles on Internal Displacement

Freedom of Movement

Supporting voluntarism and choice

Ensuring security

Valuing the voice and opinion of service users

Participation and partnership

Gender and youth-sensitivity

Environmental sustainability

Differences within the IDPs

Distinguish between urban-rural

Holistic approach

Implementation Parametres

Process-oriented approach

Contributions of IDPs as service-recipients

Reduction of replication and waste

Sustainability

Dynamic planning and implementation

Consistency with the Compensation Law