Mercy Corps ‘thrown out of Turkey with no warning’

Marcy Corps has one of the largest humanitarian operations in Syria. Photo credit: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
Marcy Corps has one of the largest humanitarian operations in Syria. Photo credit: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
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AN AID agency based in the Capital has been thrown out of Turkey where it was helping families fleeing fighting in Syria.

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Bosses at Mercy Corps were given no warning or reason for the shock announcement today.

About 200 Turkish staff will be compensated for having their jobs terminated, while a handful of expats are being flown out.

“The Turkish government has revoked Mercy Corps’ registration forcing us to shut down our operations effective immediately,” said Mercy Corps’ Christine Bragale.

“Our hearts are broken by this turn of events, which comes after five years of cooperation with the government and other local partners.”

Working in Turkey since 2012, the charity reached about 100,000 people with social services and emergency care last year.

It also has one of the largest humanitarian operations in Syria, delivering lifesaving help to up to 500,000 civilians every month.

“Our operations in Syria will continue, and our priority right now is to limit any adverse effects our departure from Turkey may have on the innocent men, women and children who depend on our assistance,” said Ms Bragale.

The charity is continuing talks with the Turkish government to resume work in a country with more than three million Syrian refugees.

One of the world’s leading NGOs, Mercy Corps helped 30 million people through crises in more than 40 countries last year.

From its base in Sciennes, Edinburgh, it employs 5,000 staff globally to work on emergency aid and preparing for disasters.

Expat staff are now catching flights out of Turkey - though none are from Edinburgh - while some 200 Turkish nationals on Mercy Corps’ payroll will be paid severance packages.

“We were not given a reason and we’re very confident in the impartiality, integrity and ethicality of our operations,” said Ms Bragale.

She said the charity is working on an “orderly and responsible” withdrawal from Turkey while continuing work in Syria and neighbouring countries.

“It’s a big operation and it’s really important to thank the people of Edinburgh and Scotland who have supported out Syria response.

“We’ll continue to work hard to fill the gaps and are confident with donors and partners we can establish new mechanisms.”

Turkey’s President Erdogan has been accused of a power grab by opponents in drafting a new constitution.

Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray (Lab) visited Mercy Corps’ Turkey projects in January.

“It’s clear that the president is intent on turning Turkey into a dictatorship,” he said.