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Conference Declaration: 'Meet, Share, Inspire' International Conference of Good Practices on Refugee Protection (24-26 September 2019, Ankara)

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Co-organized by Support to Life (STL) and the Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM), with support from European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) and Diakonie Katastophenhilfe (DKH), the conference ‘Meet, Share, Inspire: International Conference of Good Practices on Refugee Protection’ took place in Ankara between 24-26 September.
Globally, 200 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance to continue their lives in dignity and safety while the number of refugees has reached to 25.9 million. An international conference in Ankara brought together 23 panelists from 11 countries spanning 5 continents, accompanied by 6 expert moderators to discuss protection solutions and response strategies.

At the opening session, public officials from key ministries and public institutions in Turkey, as well as representatives of civil society organizations working on refugee protection welcomed the participants with opening speeches addressing three protection issues: child protection, access to rights and services, and gender based violence. Each day of the conference focused on one of these three main topics, with keynotes delivered by experts followed by panel discussions on good practices. During the final session of the conference, three parallel roundtable discussions took place, the outcomes of which will feed into a comprehensive report.

The conference opened with speeches by Mehmet Sinan Yıldız, Deputy Director of Directorate General for Migration Management (DGMM); Dr. Manuel Paulus, Development Counselor of German Embassy; Claudia Amaral, Head of the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Office in Turkey; Michael Hansmann, Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe EU Representative and Sema Genel Karaosmanoğlu, STL Director. The speakers highlighted the current situation of refugees in Turkey and in the world and highlighted the need to develop holistic, coordinated, needs and rights based activities offering durable solutions.

The first day’s theme was child protection. The keynote speakers and panelists from national and international NGOs as well as public institutions focused on protection of child rights, psychosocial support for children affected by war and conflict, specific methodologies, lessons learned and achievements. Good practices on child protection and child participation were presented from Egypt, Lebanon, Malaysia and Turkey.

The second day focused on refugees’ access to rights and services. The discussions focused on rights-based approaches; strengthening cohesive relationships between refugees and host communities; community-based initiatives; committees mobilizing refugee communities; livelihood schemes providing durable solutions; and refugees’ access to information.

The final day of the conference focused on a human-rights violation that continues to be an enduring problem all around the world: gender-based violence (GBV). The keynote speech focused on the relationship between forced displacement and GBV. Thematic panels of the day included four good practice examples from Lebanon, Jordan, India and Turkey and focused on specialized services as well as community-based protection activities.

More than 200 participants coming from public institutions, civil society organizations, academics and private sector attended the conference. The final day concluded with roundtable discussions focusing on specific recommendations and priorities for each theme.

A conference report on the conclusions will be accessible on www.good-practice.com, in Turkish and English. A digital exhibition, ‘We Are What We Share’, which compiles human stories and photographs from Support to Life’s field operations, is also accessible on the web site.