South Korea announced yesterday that it would build four schools and six medical centres for Syrian refugees in Turkey.
At the same time, the UN World Food Programme welcomed an unprecedented $4m donation from South Korea to its teams in Iran who are caring for refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Turkish announcement was made by Yunsoo Cho, Korea’s ambassador to Ankara, at a press conference reported by The Daily Sabah.
Ambassador Cho said Korea had always been in solidarity with Turkey and its efforts to provide education and health services to more than 3 million refugees.
He said two of the schools will be in Gaziantep and two in DiyarbakÄ±r. One of these, with a 1,000-student capacity, was already finished.
"In 2017, we will construct six medical centres for Syrian refugees," he said.
He added that Samsung was currently building a hospital in Gaziantep with 1,900 beds.
Turkey has admitted more than 3 million refugees since the outbreak of the civil war in 2011, among them 814,000 school-age children. Of these, 340,000 received education last year. In the 2016-17 academic year, Turkey plans to provide education for up to 450,000 Syrian children, Sabah reported.
Korea will hope that its charity enhances its influence in the Middle East. It buys more than 80% of its oil and 50% of its gas from the region, and the annual value of its trade was $164bn in 2012.
It may also go some way to counteracting a rapid fall in overseas construction orders for Korean companies, partly caused by a decline in orders from the Middle East.
In August, the Business Korea website said the total value of overseas construction orders won in the first seven months of 2016 was $6.9bn, compared with $46.1bn in the whole of 2015. As the Middle East typically accounts for 40% of the industry’s orders, the blame for the decline was put on the falling spending power of the region’s petro-economies.
Korea has also sought to counteract lower investment from the Gulf states by cultivating relations with Iran. In May, a visit by President Park Geun-hye to Tehran resulted in agreements that are thought to have totalled more than $10bn.
Image: A camp for Syrian refugees in south-west in Turkey (Cesran.org)