All Party Parliamentary Group visit to Turkey

On Sunday 18th November 2012, Fabian flew to Turkey at the head of a delegation of MPs belonging to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Turkey that Fabian chairs. A specific focus of this visit was to understand more of the current tensions caused by the revolution in Syria. During the visit the group met the following: the Prime Minister of Turkey, Mr Recep Tayyip Erdoğan; the MInister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Ahmet Davutoğlu; the Speaker of the Turkish Parliament, Mr Cemil Ciçek; and the Minister for EU Affairs, Mr Egemen Bağiş. APPG vistors were also given a briefing by the Turkish Defense Ministry. A later part of the visit included a meeting with the Turkey-UK Business Council and taking part in a University Panel at a meeting to discuss European issues.

The itinerary for the group on Monday 19th November included a visit to the frontier region with Syria and to Altınözü and Yayladağı Camps,
that have been set up for refugees fleeing the violence and oppression of the Syrian armed forces. Fabian and his colleagues visited the district near Hatay in the extreme South West of Turkey not far from the largest Syrian city of Aleppo which has been the scene for vicious and bloody fighting between rebels and government troops. To visit the refugee camp situated near Yayladağı, APPG members travelled to between two and three miles from the Syrian frontier.

Before leaving for Turkey Fabian said,

"Never before has it been so important that we understand the politics of this key region of the world and talk to our Turkish allies about the situation that confronts them on a daily basis. There are now over 120000 refugees from Syria in Turkey and their number is growing. The veto exercised at the United Nations by the Russian and Chinese governments has prevented world action to restore peace to Syria. Turkey is having to provide humanitarian assistance on a grand scale to people forced in misery to flee from their homes with no prospect of if or when they will be able to return home. Whatever the final outcome of the war in Syria, Turkey and indirectly other European countries will be caught up in trying to repair the lives of those dispossessed and traumatised by the war."

Location of APPG visit to Refugee camp in Turkey - Map data © 2012 Basarsoft Google

A refugee camp established in a former cigarette factory

Family units established using tents and partition walls

Refugee children in their makeshift school

A Syrian refugee child makes a symbolic plaque for Fabian

These photographs were taken when Fabian and his colleagues visited a refugee camp close to the Syrian border. The camp had been established in an old cigarette factory using tents and makeshift structures in an attempt to give each famiy some privacy. Most adults were reluctant to be photographed, feraful of reprisals against them and their families still in Syria. The children, as always,make the best of a bad job. One boy presented Fabian with a mosaic plaque he had made himself combining the Star of David, the Christian Cross and the Crescent of Islam.