Symposium on Syrian Refugees and Turkey

Symposium on Syrian Refugees and Turkey

Date: Wednesday 9 May 2018

Time: 5pm – 7pm

Venue: Committee Room 10, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

FREE ADMISSION but registration is required via eventbrite!

Because security checks are required to enter the House of Commons, we kindly ask you to arrive 30 minutes before the start of event.

The outbreak of a brutal civil war in Syria in 2011 brought about tragic consequences for its people. Millions of Syrians had to flee from war, violence and desperate conditions in their homelands and sought safety first and foremost, in neighbouring countries.

Having adopted an open door policy from the very beginning of the war, Turkey accepted more than 3,5 millions of Syrians without any discrimination based on their religion, culture or ethnicity. With its refugee population, which outnumbers all other neighbouring countries combined, Turkey currently is the biggest refugee hosting country in the world.

Beyond its political impacts both domestically and globally, the financial and social repercussions arising from this situation on the ground needs to be analysed and understood from a number of perspectives.

In this panel discussion, speakers from different organisations will discuss this issue in depth from their own viewpoints.

This event is hosted by Faisal Rashid, MP who also will chair the panel discussions.


Matthew Saltmarsh is a London-based Senior External Relations Officer at UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. He previously worked for the Agency in Geneva, covering the Middle East, including the Syria and Iraq situations. Prior to that he was based in Lebanon with UNHCR. Before joining the UN, he worked independently as a consultant for corporate and institutional clients on content creation, media training and communications. Matthew has also worked as a journalist, and spent eight years, latterly as a Staff Correspondent, at the International Herald Tribune/NYT in Paris. He has worked in various locations in Europe and Asia. His work has appeared in a variety of global publications.

Abby Dwommoh is the Public Information Officer and Spokesperson for IOM – the UN Migration Agency in London. She joined IOM in 2015 in Turkey, where she was the Communications Officer and Spokesperson for three years. Prior to joining IOM, Abby was a U.S. diplomat for six years working for the Department of State in Morocco, Nigeria and France. She graduated Drexel University in Philadelphia, USA with a B.S. in International Business and Marketing and a Masters in International Development from Bristol University, UK in 2014. Abby is married with a young daughter.

İbrahim Vurgun Kavlak has been the General Coordinator at Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (ASAM) since 2005. He has coordinated implementation of projects which aim to provide solutions to the problems of refugees and asylum-seekers faced in Turkey, to support them in accessing basic rights and services, to help them meet their basic needs, and to provide protection, psychosocial support and health counseling. With its 81 field offices in 47 provinces and 1300 staff, ASAM is one of the most important implementing partners of several UN organizations, international organizations and public institutions and has been operating in Turkey since 1995.

Fatma Şahin was born in Gaziantep in 1966. She received a BS degree in chemical engineering from Istanbul Technical University in 1987. From 1988 to 2001, she worked as an engineer and manager in the textile industry. At the general elections held in November 2002, she was elected to the Parliament. Fatma Şahin is the first woman Deputy of the Parliament for Gaziantep and Southeastern Anatolia region. Fatma Şahin served as the chairperson of women’s branch of the Justice and Development Party. After the 2011 general election she was appointed as Minister of Family and Social Policies as the only woman Minister at the Cabinet. She was elected as Mayor of Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality at the local elections at March, 30 2014. Fatma Şahin has been awarded Italy’s Anna Maria Mammoliti Minerva in 2017 for her and her municipality’s efforts for refugees in Turkey, becoming the first Turkish woman to win the award.

Faisal Rashid is a British Labour Party politician. He is the Member of Parliament for Warrington South and was elected at the 2017 general election. He is a member of International Trade select committee. Before becoming MP, he was the Mayor of Warrington in 2016. He has a masters degree in business administration (MBA) and has worked in the banking industry for almost 20 years.

Please note that the speakers’ views do not necessarily represent the views of the Yunus Emre Enstitusu.