Collaboration on humanitarian aid efforts has become one of the most opportune areas within the US-Turkey bilateral relationship, as both Turkey and the US are international leaders in humanitarian assistance as donor nations. In 2019, Turkey’s humanitarian aid accounted for 26% of all humanitarian aid with the US close behind; as Turkey donated a total of $7.6 billion dollars and the US donated $7 billion. This aid was primarily targeted at the Yemen Crisis and Syria. Both the US and Turkey value the necessity and importance of humanitarian aid and its positive impact on the international community. Hence, humanitarian aid has become a central area for cooperation for US-Turkey relations.
Although Turkey has become a top international humanitarian aid donor nation in recent years, Turkey still retains the largest and fastest growing refugee populations in the world. As Turkey shares its borders with Syria, Iraq, and Iran, Turkey’s geographic position has made it a convenient location for refugee flows. This fact has led to immense US-Turkey collaboration on refugee aid. For example, the US has committed to helping Turkey with its refugee crisis by instigating and expanding resettlement programs, in order to help thousands of refugees in Turkey relocate to the U.S. This resettlement program is conducted in conjunction with the UNHCR, the Turkish government, US based NGOs, and US governmental agencies. Although the US already had refugee resettlement programs in place, the US made an effort to help Turkey in particular alleviate the burden of the refugee crisis. Additionally, there are also a multitude of US based NGOs that Turkey works with to provide services to refugees once they are resettled within the US. These resettlement programs function as cornerstones to the cooperation between the US and Turkey in humanitarian assistance
Further, the U.S. has also worked to reduce the financial impact the Syrian refugees have had on Turkey; as the US has provided approximately $162 million in humanitarian assistance to Turkey since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War.
Most recently, further cooperation between the two nations have gained a more positive outlook because as of June 2021, the United States has sent a special envoy to assist Turkey in the delivery of humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees and displaced people in the region. More specifically, the US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield is set to meet with senior Turkish Officials to discuss heightened humanitarian and security cooperation in Syria. As previously stated, both nations hold value in the importance of humanitarian assistance, and cooperation in this arena will not only help those in need but also develop deeper ties between the US and Turkey. Thus, the US and Turkey have utilized humanitarian aid as a mechanism to find commonalities in the relationship and improve bilateral relations.