Mercy Corps '˜thrown out of Turkey with no warning'

AN AID agency based in the Capital has been thrown out of Turkey where it was helping families fleeing fighting in Syria.

Wednesday, 8th March 2017, 3:01 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:10 am

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

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

“The Turkish government has revoked Mercy Corps’ registration that allows us to operate in Turkey, forcing us to shut down our operations in Turkey, 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 of Turkey and other local partners.”

The charity starting working in Turkey in 2012 and 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.

“We continue to seek a dialogue with Turkish authorities in an effort to obtain permission to resume our operations in Turkey as soon as possible.

“We remain hopeful that the government of Turkey will allow us to return to serve those in critical need.

“We are grateful for the cooperation provided until now by Turkey, which has generously opened its doors to more than three million refugees since the Syria conflict began.”

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

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

Ex-pat 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 a “orderly and responsible” withdrawal from Turkey while continuing work in Syria and six neighbouring countries.

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

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