Turkey in Africa: Humanity at work

Souleiman is a Darfuri young man. Lacking any skills, he was mostly unemployed. In 2013, he learnt about the vocational training centre in Khartoum, established by the Turkish Co-operation and Coordination Agency (TIKA). After attending a climatisation course for six months, he now makes a living for himself. He is one of over 1,500 young men who received vocational training at the Tika centre.

Chagina, widowed with three children, had to take over from her late husband the business of selling fish in Kisumu County. Lacking the means to pay for the fish, her family had a scanty livelihood. Later, she participated in a Tika project of  - Empowerment of Fisher-women in Lake Victoria - through which Tika delivered 15 boats, employing 45 local women in fishing. Chagina now supports her kids and has become an alternative wholesaler for other women, who buy fish to sell in the local markets.

These are only two humble examples of how Turkish development assistance drastically improves the lives of Africans. Fully conscious of collective global responsibilities such as fighting poverty, providing education for all, empowering women and youth, and alleviating the challenges in conflict areas, Turkey upholds a holistic approach by combining humanitarian and development assistance, without prioritising either. In line with the needs of the African people, Turkey gives priority to health, education, capacity building, as well as to contributing to peace and stability through participation in the UN missions, and provision of training in the field of security.

In the health sector, Turkey organises vocational training programmes for African doctors and nurses, and provides free medical screening and treatment on the ground.

In education, Turkey provides around 1,000 scholarships annually for African students. There are currently over 5,000 African students in Turkish institutions of higher education. When they return home, these young alumni will undoubtedly advance their countries' economic and social development.

To help ensure peace and stability in Africa, Turkey contributes to UN missions on the continent. As of August 2015, Turkey has taken part in seven of the nine existing UN missions, with its police and military officers. By the end of 2014, training was provided in Turkey for 2,200 African military personnel. During 2015-2016, we expect to receive 1200 more military staff for training.

Turkey disbursed $ 3.3 billion of development and humanitarian assistance in 2014. This outstanding amount made Turkey the third largest humanitarian assistance provider in 2013 and 2014. Sub-saharan Africa's share in Turkish official aid increased significantly in recent years, reaching $ 782.7 million in 2013, from only $ 38 million in 2010.

That is why Turkey volunteered and was rightfully designated to be the host country of the first ever World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016. Aiming at ensuring further co-operation and commitment of the international community, particularly in Africa, the Summit will be yet another indication of Turkey's determination in pursuing a leading role in the humanitarian field.

Turkey has hosted, so far, several conferences on African matters. As such, during Turkey's G20 chairmanship in 2015, dialogue between the G20 and Africa became a priority. We will also be hosting the sixth High Level Partnership Forum on Somalia at Ministerial level in February 2016. The meeting is highly important at this critical juncture of Somalia's future, and a manifestation of Turkey's long-term commitment to the humanitarian and development challenges in Africa.

Turkey has established strong ties on the continent, thanks to the Turkey-Africa Partnership Summits in 2008 and 2014, as well as by increasing its diplomatic presence. Turkey now has 39 embassies and four consulates in Africa, compared to only 12 embassies in 2008. Reciprocally, the number of African embassies in Ankara has reached 32, almost tripling in six years. Turkish Airlines' flights to more than 40 destinations in 28 African countries deserve special credit for their role in cementing these ties.

As a strategic partner of the continent, Turkey is working with Africa to make further advances in humanitarian and economic development, as well as democracy, good governance and prosperity.

Turkey will remain committed to supporting African countries in achieving their goals, based on their own priority areas, which will further consolidate the application of "African solutions for African matters".