Aid should focus on development: Turkey’s first lady

By Servet Gunerigok

WASHINGTON (AA) – Humanitarian aid must include efforts to reduce recipients’ dependency on it, Turkey’s First Lady Emine Erdogan said Monday.

Speaking at a panel organized by the Turkish SETA Foundation in New York, Erdogan highlighted that humanitarian aid policies should not increase the dependency of the recipients.

“Our [Turkey’s] vision of humanitarian aid is not about aid packages or vulnerable people waiting in line,” said Erdogan, adding the country’s aid covers not only meeting basic needs but also prevention of crises and reducing dependency through development support.

“Therefore, humanitarian aid must also include efforts focusing on development,” she said.

Turning to Syrian refugees living in Turkey, who number more than three million and more than half of whom are women and children, Erdogan said Ankara does not provide shelter alone.

“We place special importance on teaching women a profession to help their survival. We provide courses in many areas ranging from hairdressing to computer skills.

“We rehabilitate women who have suffered in the war through development programs and hobby courses and help them discover their potential,” she added.

As for children, she said, Turkey works to ensure that they are provided with education and young Syrian people are able to pursue their university studies.

She recalled that Turkey is also providing development aid to Africa.

“In other words, we are, to use a popular phrase, teaching them how to fish instead of providing the fish. We provide training and equipment to Africa that will help them discover their own potential,” she added.

Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.

*Kasim Ileri contributed to this story

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