Assistant ILO Director-General and Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia Koller: “I am thankful to Turkey as the country hosting the highest number of refugees in the world”

Speaking at the Seventh International Symposium on Social Security, Koller said: “Turkey continues to host the world’s largest refugee population and leads the way. In this context, the ILO is pleased to be able to lend its support to this incredible humanitarian gesture. I am thankful to Turkey as the country hosting the highest number of refugees in the world”.


ANKARA – Assistant ILO Director-General and Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia Heinz Koller said: “I am thankful to Turkey as the country hosting the highest number of refugees in the world”.

Koller delivered the opening remarks at the Seventh International Symposium on Social Security themed “migration and social security” organised by Turkey’s Social Security Institution (SSI) and supported by the ILO, Turkish Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MoLSS), and Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA).

The Assistant Director-General said “I would like to preface my comments on the Syrian crisis by echoing those of our Director General when he visited the refugee camps and ILO programmes in Harran, Şanlıurfa, in May 2016, and acknowledged the incredible generosity of the government and Turkish people in providing sanctuary and assistance to now almost 4 million refugees. Turkey continues to host the world’s largest refugee population and leads the way. In this context, the ILO is pleased to be able to lend its support to this incredible humanitarian gesture. I am thankful to Turkey as the country hosting the highest number of refugees in the world”.

Stating that “ILO welcomes Turkey’s pioneering temporary protection framework which also promotes access to decent work for Syrian refugees through work permits”, Koller noted that such people-centred approach applied in Turkey could be a significant value to the search for more effective ways of supporting refugees and host communities during crisis and in rebuilding their lives through the promotion of decent work. He stressed that “We are here to help Turkey to make it a success”, and explained that the ILO Office for Turkey formulated a “support programme” to promote better jobs for refugees and host communities.

Emphasizing that ILO worked in close cooperation with MoLSS, Turkey’s Employment Agency, and SSI in Turkey, Koller referred to the cooperation process between the ILO Office for Turkey and SSI, underlining that such initiative was important in ensuring registered employment for refugees and host communities.

-Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Security Yegin: “Turkey has today a social security system taken as a model by the world”

Speaking at the symposium, Mr. Orhan Yegin, Deputy Minister of MoLSS, stated that “Turkey is the most generous country in the world on the issue of migrants. The number of migrants and refugees in our country corresponds to 5% of the total population. Our country has migrants outnumbering the population of some countries.”

Yegin noted that Turkey achieved the social security reform on which many developed nations in the world failed to do; and had at present a social security system taken as a model by the world. Disclosing that applications for working permits were received from 165 different nationalities, Yegin added that “Such applications required specialisation in that field. Therefore, the Directorate-General for International Labour Force was created within our Ministry”.

Reminding that Turkey hosted more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees for whom it had spent almost 30 billion USD to date, Yegin said: “These figures made Turkey the country hosting the highest number of refugees in the world. Our age-old tradition of “Let human beings live, so that the state lives on” encompasses not only our nation, but also everybody who arrives in this land in goodwill. We are the members of a grand civilization who invite everybody to our table regardless of language, religion, race or sect as long as he is of goodwill. That is our age-old philosophy that underlies the all-inclusiveness of our social security system.”

-SSI President Bağlı

SSI President Mr. Mehmet Selim Bağlı reminded that the oldest social security agreements at ILO standards were signed by Turkey and Western European countries.

Bağlı noted that Turkey received migratory flows from its near geography for various reasons; hosted such migrants whose primary destination was Europe; and thereby contributed to the socio-economic structure and social security of Europe as well. He emphasized that Turkey was the only country in the world that hosted refugees more populous than most countries in Europe; this demonstrated the Turkish state’s power and high tolerance by the society. Bağlı stressed the importance of support to Turkey from the international community.

The two-day symposium will feature three sessions addressing the migration and current trends in the world and Turkey, role of social security and protection in integrating migrants, and impact of migration on labour markets and social security and good practices.