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Turkey hosts world's most refugees for 5th consecutive year, UN says


Turkey has been hosting the most number of refugees for the last five years, a U.N. Refugee Agency official said yesterday, adding that Ankara has undertaken a very tough responsibility.

"Unfortunately, clashes are not ending in the time period we are living in," Selin Ünal, the spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Turkey, told Anadolu Agency.

"This year, unfortunately, we saw numbers rising compared to last year," Ünal said, referring to the UNHCR's Global Trends Report released last week.

Interior Ministry figures say the number of refugees in Turkey was 4.2 million in 2017 and has now reached 4.9 million.

Ankara has spent nearly $40 billion so far for the refugees, while it has only received about 6 billion euros of support from the international community. Despite some factions in Turkey becoming restive due to a record number of refugees in various cities and the large amount of money spent on them amid deteriorating economic conditions in the country, the government insists on keeping its open-door policy along with maximum support for refugees.

According to the Global Trends Report, an estimated 13.6 million people were newly displaced due to conflict or persecution in 2018. This included 10.8 million individuals displaced within the borders of their own country and 2.8 million new refugees and new asylum seekers.

It added that every day in 2018, an average of some 37,000 people were forced to flee their homes, and nearly four out of five refugees ended up in neighboring countries.

"By the end of 2018, about 3.5 million people were awaiting a decision on their application for asylum," read the report.

"For the fifth consecutive year, Turkey hosted the largest number of refugees worldwide, with 3.7 million people" – most of them refugees from the Syrian civil war – followed by Pakistan, Uganda, Sudan and Germany, it noted.

Ünal said Turkey has undertaken a very tough responsibility to take in and care for refugees who are trying to hold onto life, rebuild their lives and look to the future.

"Turkey is the country which has been hosting the highest number of refugees in the world for five consecutive years," she stressed.

"In this context, Turkey is appreciated not just by us, but by the international community," said Ünal, adding that cooperation between Ankara and the UNHCR continues.

Turkey has said while it appreciates the praise, the world community, especially the EU, has failed to do its part to help share the refugee burden.

Displaced people, said Ünal, are not fundamentally different from other individuals, but they have undergone "extraordinary experiences."

Last Thursday, EU Ambassador to Turkey Christian Berger said that Ankara has been carrying out great work by hosting millions of refugees from Syria and other parts of the world, adding that its achievement is not recognized enough.

Speaking at a photo exhibition organized on the occasion of World Refugee Day in Ankara, Berger appreciated Ankara's efforts, saying that the EU will continue to give support to Turkey to share its burden.

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