Briefing on Regional Response Plan (RRP) 5 Launch

28 May 2013

Opening Remarks by

Kamal Malhotra
United Nations Resident Coordinator, Turkey

Excellencies, the President of AFAD, Ambassador İşcan, Members of the Diplomatic Community, Representatives of the Turkish Red Crescent, UN colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me use this opportunity both to welcome you to UN House and to introduce myself to those of you I have not had the pleasure of meeting so far as the new UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Turkey. It has been a remarkably busy seven weeks and steep learning curve for me on the Syrian crisis’ spillover effects in Turkey!

•    I would like to thank partners and donors for their participation, and for your ongoing engagement and support extended to date to assist Syria’s neighbouring states in maintaining protection and assistance.

•    The Republic of Turkey continues to extend protection and assistance to Syrian refugees.    As you are aware, the Government of Turkey declared a Temporary Protection regime in October 2011 which continues to be in force for all Syrians and Palestinians ex-Syria in the country (this ensures international protection consistent with international principles). 

•    The number of refugees accommodated in camps has increased from 148,221 in December 2012 to 194,000.  There are currently 17 camps in 8 provinces, and another 4 camps are under construction.  In addition, more than 210,000 Syrians are estimated to reside in urban locations throughout Turkey, meaning there are over 400,000 Syrians under protection in Turkey today. 75% are women and children.

•    We now appear to be entering a more critical and new phase, however. As a result, one of my very first decisions was to create a separate UN Syria Response Group in Turkey, which while a sub-group of the UN Country Team in Turkey will meet separately and more frequently (bi-weekly) under my leadership. We have already had two meetings in May, and this is effectively the third. We intend to have regular meetings both with Government and with the international donor and broader community in Turkey.

•    The 5th Regional Response Plan for Refugees (RRP) will be launched in Geneva on 7 June by the UNHCR High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr Antonio Guterres to outline the needs of refugees who have fled Syria.  The UN Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator Ms Valerie Amos, will simultaneously launch the 5th Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan (SHARP) for needs inside Syria.  These two plans combined anticipate that up to 10 million Syrians may be displaced by the end of 2013 (approximately half of Syria’s population), comprising 3.5 million refugees and 6.5 million internally displaced persons.  Of this number, 1 million refugees are projected in Turkey by end-2013 on current assumptions. Obviously, a lot of hope is being placed on the US-Russia-UN supported meeting planned around mid-June in Geneva. If that fails, these numbers will have to be revised upwards significantly, especially if military activities in Syria escalate, as they are expected to if no or inadequate political agreement is reached in Geneva in June.

•    Such numbers, even without revision, represent unprecedented humanitarian needs.  International support and solidarity to meet these needs is, therefore, more critical than in the past two years.  The RRP5 and SHARP to be launched in Geneva on June 7 will outline these core needs for refugees, IDPs, and also in part for host communities now increasingly feeling the strain of the spill-over effects of the Syrian crisis in Turkey and its neighbouring countries.  Strong solidarity is critical to helping neighbouring states keep their borders open and to ensure protection for civilians fleeing.

•    The UN Syria Response Group and UNCT in Turkey have, therefore, in full partnership with the relevant Turkish institutions, advanced and now finalized the Turkey chapter of the RRP in an effort to identify core, lifesaving needs.  In addition to the original RRP agency participation of the relevant government agencies, WFP, IOM, WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA and UNHCR and our NGO partners, both UNDP and FAO now have some modest projects proposed as well which are focused on host communities in Turkey.

•    The UNCT is grateful for the strong partnership of the GoT in the preparation of the RRP, and is taking this opportunity to outline critical needs in Turkey to the donor and broader international community in Turkey.  While the Government and people of Turkey have generously and consistently hosted Syrians in need of protection, and have relied primarily on Turkish resources in this effort, it is extremely important that in this international crisis neighbouring countries including Turkey which bears the largest burden receive both full solidarity and greater burden sharing from the international community, not least so that they can continue to provide badly needed support as well as continued access to protection across open borders.

•    While the UN in Turkey recognizes that other countries neighboring Syria - and Lebanon and Jordan in particular - may have more compelling needs than Turkey, we also believe that the donor response to the needs of the refugee population in Turkey needs to be at a higher and more reasonable level than it has been so far.

I thank you for coming and for your patience and will now invite my colleague, Carol Batchelor, UNHCR Representative in Turkey, to present the RRP5, in summary form, on behalf of the UN Country Team’s newly formed Syria Response Group.