How wealth grows through sharing

From a diverse range of countries, thousands of people in need held on to life thanks to a reliable friend: At present, Turkey is the world’s third-largest donor of humanitarian aid.

Millions of people all over the world are deprived of a warm bed, clean drinking water, a bowl of soup, a pencil – and some even do not know if they will survive the day. Material wealth should not be underestimated. It is essential for any government in the world to provide its people with sufficient wealth, education, health, and security. On the other hand, we live in a world more connected than ever, and where we can learn any developments almost instantaneously. The more educated a person is, the more likely he or she is to empathise with those who are much less fortunate. Aylan Kurdi’s lifeless body discovered on an Aegean beach was unsettling for everyone around the globe and not without cause. Turkey has sustained significant growth, particularly in the last 13 years, as the country’s per capita national income and GNP increased. Yet, this is not all that matters. Turkey has also prevented hundreds of thousands of children from sharing Aylan’s fate.

Turkey, the country that came to the aid of Syria’s refugees

The most recent and disheartening example, is the fleeing of millions of refugees from the civil war in Syria, that began after the Arab Spring. According to UNHCR data, Turkey is home to 2.5 million Syrian refugees. If these people are alive today, they owe it to Turkey, which has opened its borders to them. And, after the agreement signed at the beginning of this month between the European Union and Turkey, the country will be able to provide much better amenities to the refugees fleeing from war. At last, they can feel at home and safe here. Besides cultural proximity and a shared faith, the ingrained hospitality and benevolence of the Turkish people are strengthening the bonds between the Turkish and Syrian peoples.

Cultural links or not

Wherever there is a natural disaster, war, or poverty, Turkey takes it as its duty show up and help those hit, with every resource it can muster. What’s more, the country extends its helping hand without discriminating based on race, religion, gender or language. For example, Turkey was one of the biggest donors to Haiti, which was hit by a powerful earthquake that killed nearly 310,000 people in 2010. Including participation in the search and rescue efforts and sending medical equipment, Turkey, a country with no apparent cultural links with Haiti, donated $1 million to earthquake-hit Haitians. There are many more examples: the 2004 South Asia earthquake and tsunami; the 2005 Pakistan earthquake, the humanitarian crisis in Lebanon in 2006, the Gaza crisis at the end of 2008, the 2010 Chile earthquake, the floods in Pakistan, the 2011 Japan earthquake, the humanitarian crisis suffered by Muslims in the Rakhine State in Burma, the famines in Somalia, and humanitarian aid sent to many African countries. The list is long.

Public sector, NGOs and companies work hand in hand

Turkey began to provide humanitarian aid in the mid-1980s, and today, these efforts have real depth and scope in both quality and quantity. Turkey provides direct assistance to the regions in need, and also cooperates closely with international organisations such as the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and the World Food Programme (WFP). Many Turkey-based NGOs introduce the generosity of Turkey to people in need around the world.

The World Food Programme considers Turkey as a “rising donor.”In 2006, Turkey provided nearly $4.2 million in humanitarian aid, and it is estimated that this figure exceeds $6 billion today including aid in kind, and the contributions of NGOs and private corporations. Then again, this is just the direct financial aid. Turkey is the third most generous country after the US and the UK, in terms of the share of its GDP it allocates for global humanitarian assistance. It isn’t possible to determine the financial value of the sacrifices Turkey has made to alleviate the present refugee crisis, which is considered to be the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II.