ILO head praises Turkey's treatment of Syrian refugees

The head of the International Labour Organization (ILO) has praised Turkey Monday for allowing Syrian refugees to obtain work permits.

Ahead of the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Guy Ryder, director-general of the ILO, spoke to Anadolu Agency Monday morning regarding the refugee situation.

“There are lessons that Europe should learn on the issue. Turkey is one of the countries - with its open-door policy - from which Europe should take lessons,” Ryder said.

Turkey has adopted an open-door policy towards Syrian refugees in 2011, thus opening its borders to those fleeing the civil war.

Turkey now hosts around 3 million refugees.

“I see it a huge failure [...] that Europe has yet determined a common attitude on the refugee crisis,” Guy Ryder, director-general of the ILO said to Anadolu Agency.

“I would say that the international community has been insufficient in their response to Syrian refugees,” Ryder said.

He stressed that officials needed to raise awareness about refugees’ rights in Turkey.

“At the end of January, the Turkish government passed a regulation to give work permits to refugees residing in Turkey. But, [the latter] are not aware of this legislation,” he noted.

He added local governments and employment agencies needed to develop their capacities, and collect information about refugees’ professions to direct them to right jobs.

Guy Ryder emphasized that all refugees have one shared demand. “All of them want to return to their homes safely, schooling for their children and working opportunities.”

Guy Ryder also stressed that more than 60 million people have been displaced due to conflicts and violence in the world.

He pointed out that the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul would be a chance to invite other countries to join the burden-sharing with regards to refugees.

“Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the United Nations, will make a very strong call to the international community for burden sharing at the summit, because it's not a problem of two or three countries. It is a problem the world must bear,” Ryder said.

The summit comes as the Syrian civil war enters its sixth year, as Europe is facing the worst refugee crisis since World War II, and as global social inequality has reached a peak amid a rising population.

Hosted by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, world leaders of UN member states, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, are gathering in Turkey’s largest city Monday and Tuesday.

During the summit, attended by 125 of the UN’s 193 member states, at least 50 heads of government will announce several commitments to reduce humanitarian disasters.

These include: preventing and ending conflict; respecting the rules of war; addressing forced displacement; achieving gender equality; responding to climate change; ending the need for aid; and investing in humanity.

Turkey ranked third in the list of countries with the most international humanitarian work in 2012 and 2013, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency, TIKA, says in its Turkish Development Assistance 2013 report -- the latest such figures from the agency.

According to another 2013 Global Humanitarian Assistance report, the top five donors were the U.S. with $3.8 billion, followed by EU institutions ($1.9 billion), the U.K. ($1.2 billion), Turkey ($1.0 billion) and Sweden with $784 million.

Hosting almost 3 million Syrian refugees, Turkey has spent nearly $10 billion on caring for them since the start of the Syrian crisis.