United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon began a visit to Turkey to assess the conditions of Syrian refugees there, by travelling on a United Nations plane from Jordan, where he had visited the Za’atari camp for Syrian refugees just hours earlier.
He immediately travelled to the Islahiye camp hosting Syrian refugees just north of the Syrian-Turkish border. He received briefings from United Nations and Turkish Red Crescent officials about the services provided in the camp and then walked through the tent city, listening to the needs of different residents.
The Secretary-General then spoke to reporters, thanking the Government and people of Turkey for their generosity and hospitality in hosting more than 120,000 Syrian refugees. He said he was aware of the tremendous burden this places on the Government and society as ever more Syrians seek refuge outside their borders in towns, cities and refugee camps.
The Secretary-General said that, after visiting the Za’atari camp in Jordan in the morning and the Islahiye camp in Turkey in the afternoon, he was shocked, humbled and deeply moved by the stories that families shared with him.
He appealed to all sides in Syria, especially the Government, to stop the killing and violence in the name of humanity. And he urged the international community, the Security Council in particular, to stand united and act decisively to end the crisis.
That evening, the Secretary-General travelled to Ankara, where he met, in sequence, with President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. The last of those meetings was followed by a press encounter and working dinner with Foreign Minister Davutoğlu.
The Secretary-General exchanged views with the President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister on the grave crisis in Syria and its implications for neighbouring countries. He thanked Turkey for hosting thousands of Syrian refugees, and assured the Turkish Government of the United Nations’ continued partnership in providing humanitarian assistance.
They also discussed developments in the Middle East, including prospects for the Middle East peace process. The Secretary-General underscored the importance of Turkey’s role in finding a durable solution to the Cyprus problem. They also discussed the way forward in Somalia.
The following morning, the Secretary-General flew back to New York, ending a week-long visit to the Middle East.