OIC to hold conference on refugees in Muslim world in Turkmenistan

April 24, 2012, Tuesday/ 13:37:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is preparing to organize an international ministerial conference on “Refugees in the Muslim World” in Ashgabat, in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The conference will take place on May 10-11. According to a press statement from the OIC, the main objective of the conference is to highlight the organization's support for member states as they assist large-scale refugee populations, as well as the mandate and responsibility of the UNHCR towards refugees.

“The conference also aims to promote awareness of the scope and nature of the refugee problem in OIC member states, as well as the broader refugee situation globally, particularly encourage the international community, including OIC member states, in promoting and creating conditions for sustainable voluntary repatriation and reintegration in their country of origin,” said the statement.

The OIC is the largest international Muslim organization and includes 57 countries with a combined population of about 1.2 billion people. Turkey has been a member of the organization since 1969.

According to UNHCR statistics, the 57 member states of the OIC were hosting approximately 18 million people of concern to the refugee agency as of the end of 2010.

Turkey has recently been experiencing a refugee crisis on its southern border due to the security situation in Syria. Around 24,000 Syrian refugees are housed in tent cities in the provinces of Gaziantep, Hatay and Şanlıurfa.

Representatives of 40 international and regional organizations, as well as observers from 21 countries, are expected to attend the conference in Ashgabat. Delegations from the US, Russia, China, Australia and EU governments are among the observers.

A plan of action to manage the refugee situation in OIC countries is expected to be adopted in the form of a final declaration following the conference.

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