Refugees In Turkey Have Same Access To Health Care, COVID-19 Services As Citizens - UNHCR

MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 21st May, 2020) Refugees and asylum seekers in Turkey have the same access to emergency health care services, including testing and treatment for COVID-19, as Turkish citizens, spokeswoman of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Turkey Selin Unal told Sputnik.

"In Turkey, access to emergency health services, including those related to COVID-19, are accessible to all persons, whether citizens or foreigners, including refugees and asylum seekers," the spokeswoman said.

Medical coverage extends to all stages of the coronavirus disease testing and treatment process, the official stated.

"Measures such as testing, quarantine, protective equipment, and health services apply to all, refugees and asylum seekers included," Unal stated.

Since the start of the outbreak, more than 153,500 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Turkey, resulting in the deaths of more than 4,200 people. On Thursday, the country's Health Ministry announced 961 new cases, a slight decrease from the 972 new positive tests announced the day before.

Turkish legislation itself provides a strong framework for the government to offer the appropriate care and resources for the almost four million refugees and asylum seekers currently in the country, the UN official said.

"The overall response to refugees and asylum seekers is led by the government of Turkey. The Law on Foreigners and International Protection, and the Temporary Protection Regulation provide a strong legal framework for the legal stay, registration, access to rights and services for Syrians, and refugees and asylum seekers of other nationalities in Turkey," Unal stated.

According to the UNHCR spokeswoman, almost four million asylum seekers and refugees, the majority of which have fled the ongoing conflict in neighboring Syria, are currently residing in Turkey.

"Turkey is hosting some 3.6 million Syrian refugees and close to 330,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers of other nationalities," Unal stated.

Less than two percent of Syrian refugees in Turkey are currently based in the country's official temporary accommodation facilities, the spokeswoman added.

"In Turkey, less than two percent of Syrians live in temporary accommodation centers, while over 98 percent reside among the host community in urban, peri-urban, and rural areas," Unal remarked.

On Wednesday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy stated that Turkey was neither the doorkeeper nor the migrant camp of the European Union.

Aksoy's statement came in the wake of comments made by European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas during an appearance on the Euronews broadcaster. Schinas stated that Ankara has previously attempted to exploit refugees for political gains.