United Nations’ Ankara chief hails Turkey’s assistance efforts

April 12, 2010, Monday/ 17:41:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN
Shahid Najam, the United Nations resident coordinator in Ankara, has praised global humanitarian assistance efforts exerted by both the Turkish government and civil society, highlighting that those efforts have led to sustainable capacity-building in regions which have been faced with serious problems such as poverty and insecurity.

“Turkey is creating the capacity for people to grow for themselves -- which is sustainable -- rather than only giving millions of tons of wheat or flour,” Najam said in a brief interview with Today’s Zaman.

Najam, a Pakistani national, assumed office as the UN resident coordinator in Ankara last December. He expressed enormous pleasure in being posted to Turkey, describing it as a country that has historically been at the forefront in expanding the development frontiers of human civilization. He underscored his commitment to work closely with the Turkish government, civil society and other partners to increase UN-Turkey cooperation by focusing primarily on joint priorities.

Particularly highlighting Turkey’s assistance efforts in Afghanistan, Africa and Pakistan, Najam said Turkey has been expanding in those regions by being able to tackle the issues of poverty, security, shelter and health, while also lauding efforts by institutions such as the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TİKA).

Most recently, TİKA opened its 26th program office at the Turkish Embassy in Islamabad. In 2008 Turkish foreign aid from private and public sources totaled $3 billion. The government development aid alone has multiplied tenfold in a decade, from $70 million in 1997 to $700 million in 2007. Turkey’s humanitarian assistance, reconstruction aid and technical support programs have helped more than 131 countries so far.

Referring to Turkey’s growing presence in African countries both by the private and public sectors, Najam said: “There are obviously economic and business gains. But apart from the economic gains, you are also giving something to the local community by building their capacity -- it’s a win-win situation.”

He also underlined that by investing in those particular regions, the Turkish business sector was carrying out “a big thing,” by creating jobs there.

Najam also said the Turkish government was very receptive and committed to getting involved with UN bodies in order to expand a rights-based approach on issues such as illegal immigration, refugees and asylum seekers.

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