Turkey marked International Migrants Day on Dec. 18 as being the country that hosts the highest number of migrants.
According to recent statistics, Turkey hosts nearly 4.5 million migrants, of whom the majority are Syrians who have taken refuge in the country after escaping from the brutal war in their homeland.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu released a message to mark the day, saying “we must protect and uphold the rights of all migrants and refugees.”
“Our world has been on the move throughout history. And today is no different, as millions of people seek new homes away from their birth places,” Çavuşoğlu wrote on his official Twitter account on Dec. 18, adding that “no one should be left behind.”
“We must protect and uphold the rights of all migrants and refugees. Let’s make sure no one is left behind,” he said.
According to statistics released by the Turkish Interior Ministry’s Directorate General of Migration Management, there are over 3.3 million Syrians registered with biometric IDs in Turkey, of whom 227,332 are living in 21 camps in 10 provinces, while the rest are living across all 81 provinces of Turkey.
Because migrants have been using Turkey as a passage route to the United States and Europe, Turkish authorities have been struggling with human smuggling near its borders. A total of 2,407 human smugglers and its organizers have been detained over the past 11 months in operations carried out to prevent illegal migrants from illegally reaching European Union countries.
This year’s theme for International Migrants Day was announced as “Safe Migration in a World on the Move.”
According to the United Nations, the biggest human migration since the Second World War is taking place today.
Some 65 million have been forced to leave their countries over gun violence, while 230 million others have had to migrate for other reasons.
U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres released a message to mark the day, saying that effective international cooperation in managing migration is necessary.
“On International Migrants Day, we recognize the contributions and celebrate the vitality of the world’s 258 million migrants. Evidence overwhelmingly shows that migrants generate economic, social and cultural benefits for societies everywhere. Yet hostility towards migrants is unfortunately growing around the world,” Guterres said, adding that “solidarity with migrants has never been more urgent.”
Special Representative of the Secretary-General for International Migration Louise Arbour also released a statement.
“The reality of migration is a wonderful story of human triumph, ingenuity, sister-, and brotherhood. The majority of the world’s 258 million international migrants move through safe channels and provide a wealth of contributions to their new communities while retaining an essential link to their origin countries,” Arbour said, before citing the problems millions of migrants face.
“Yet for many millions of others, on the move or living in the shadows, their status as migrants brings with it danger. Discrimination, persecution, degradation and death are the interlinked by-products both of prejudice and the failure to effectively manage the phenomenon of migration for the optimal benefit of both the migrant and their communities of origin and destination,” she said.