How to develop humanitarian action in the cities that fight against crisis was discussed with cooperation of UCLG-MEWA, WALD and Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality.

Organized with cooperation of Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality and World Academy for Local Government and Democracy (WALD), founders of which include United Cities and Local Government Middle East and West Asia Section (UCLG-MEWA),  “Improving Humanitarian Action in Urban Crisis Workshop” took place on 18th April 2016.                                                                     

The workshop, which the representatives of National and International Non-governmental Organizations, Ambassadors and representetives of local governments showed a great deal of interest, started with the opening speeches of Mehmet DUMAN, Secretary General of UCLG-MEWA and Fatma Şahin, Mayor of Gaziantep and President of UCLG-MEWA.

In his speech, Mr. Duman said “Today we use the concept “governance” in our cities. I do not only mention the inclusion of local community to the government. At the same time, I am referring to a multi-actor government style. I also talk about the global partnerships that should not be ignored. What is multi-actor government? It is the formation of a government with a great network consisting of non-governmental organizations, national and international organizations and particularly the local authority. Today, the biggest humanitarian crisis in our cities is migration. This is actually a phenomenon which has started with industrialization. As is known, the tension in Syria escalated in 2011 and millions of people had to leave their homes with the result of this tension. Consequently, people who migrated took refuge in the neighbouring countries. Now, Gaziantep, Hatay, Şanlıurfa and Kilis are our cities facing humanitarian crisis that have been affected by these events. Here, I want to highlight that local governments should work more actively with the non-governmental organizations. The most important point in fighting against the humanitarian crisis is the constitution of mutual working awareness. As WALD, we encourage these partnerships during our meetings. In my opinion; this workshop will show us a way on how and who to work with in humanitarian crisis management in the cities”.

“Geography is the Destiny”

Fatma Şahin, Mayor of Gaziantep and President of UCLG-MEWA said “It is impossible to tolerate the things we have gone through for the last 5 years; the tragedy which our neighbours experience, the civil war, tears of the children in their eyes, mothers losing their children, children left behind without their parents.” in her speech. “We have never looked at the events as ‘calculative’ manner. We always looked at the events voluntarily and humanely and with the inspiration we took from the history, we fulfilled the message that our faith and civilization has given us. With the understanding of ”The giving hand is better than the one that takes, He who sleeps on a full stomach while his neighbour goes hungry is not one of us” we opened our doors, dining tables and our hearts,” she continued.

Mrs. Şahin who said that Turkey, and particularly the Southeastern region had a heavy burden; local administrators therefore had plenty of work in this process. Stating that the migration is the destiny of this geography, Mrs. Şahin continued her words: “There is a beautiful statement of Ibn Khaldun, he says; ‘geography is the destiny’. Especially when we look at the Middle East, we see that underground and overground resources of the region has become subjects of the power relations of the super powers, and people are made obliged to live under that shadow. Here and now, we say ‘no to war’ with this stance. We do not want anyone to shed any more tears. Migration is felt deeply in our region and our city. In this period; we make effort to pass this test as a region and as a country. At that point, local experience is of course very important.”

A Platform that Will Develop the Dialog Among NGOs Will Be Organized

During the workshop at which the representatives of non-governmental organizations and local and central governments gathered, the importance of NGOs developing a dialog among local governments, other institutions and organizations was highlighted. Expressing that NGOs that carry out successful projects and works at various areas in both raising social awareness and works done on the humanitarian aid aspect of the crisis would take more attention and be more successful, the decision of moving together in all the future works was taken.

At the and of the workshop during which the representatives of 40 national and international non-governmental organizations along with the representatives of central and local governments, the decision of forming a platform which can provide the development of a dialog between NGOs was taken under the guidance of UCLG-MEWA, WALD and Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality. 

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