The Government of the Republic of Turkey and the United Nations (UN) in Turkey signed a Customs Facilitation Agreement that simplifies customs procedures in emergencies. When disaster strikes, timely delivery of relief items is crucial for saving lives. For this reason, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), on behalf of the United Nations system in Turkey, have introduced the Customs Agreement. This agreement will allow for the speeding up of the import, export, and transit of relief consignments, humanitarian personnel and their equipment in the event of emergencies.
Turkey is situated in a disaster-prone geography and thus has a number of vulnerabilities, in terms of earthquakes, for example. Over the last decade, the Government of Turkey has made significant progress in terms of disaster preparedness at national level and as well as in scaling up its humanitarian assistance globally. Today, the Republic of Turkey continues to host the largest refugee population in the world and plays a key role in the support and facilitation of life saving humanitarian assistance for the affected populations in Syria, managed from Turkey. As such, the Government has established procedures for the rapid deployment of international aid in emergencies by lowering customs barriers. The negotiations between the UN and the Government of Turkey have been successfully concluded.
The agreement is a major step forward in strengthening emergency preparedness and ensuring timely response to affected people. The UN Resident Coordinator to the Republic of Turkey, Mr. Kamal Malhotra, noted: “The Government of Turkey take their responsibility for Turkey’s and the world’s population very seriously. It is encouraging and heartening to witness both their humanity and dedication to preparedness. The customs agreement signed today is a major achievement for the country and should serve as an inspiring example for the wider region”. The agreement enables UN agencies, intergovernmental, governmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as other humanitarian actors, to quickly agree with the Turkish customs authorities about bringing in relief consignments to save lives and reduce the suffering of affected people in a timely manner. The Customs Agreement was signed by the Under Secretary of the Ministry of Customs and Trade, representing the Government of the Republic of Turkey, Mr. Cenap Asci, and the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative to the Republic of Turkey, Mr. Kamal Malhotra.