Parts of the meetings took place in the south eastern province of Gaziantep which is currently hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees. More than 33.000 Syrians has fled to Turkey since the uprising started in Syria over a year ago, and Larsen expressed his support to the important task Turkey has taken concerning the protection and wellbeing of the refugees.
Children in Kilis Refugee Camp
Norway is a major financial contributor to the refugee camps and the State Secretary was pleased to find Kilis camp which he visited in good a condition. Most importantly, when talking to the refugees Larsen found that they felt safe in the camp and that their needs were accommodated.
State Secretary Larsen in front of memorial for Gizem Dogan
While in Gaziantep, Larsen also visited Gizem Dogan Centre. Gizem Dogan was killed in the terror attacks that struck Norway last year, while she was participating on the Labour-party’s youth branch summer camp on Utøya Island. To honour her memory, her relatives in Turkey opened an activity centre for children and youth in Gaziantep.
In his speech Larsen described Dogan as a symbol of the multicultural Norway: “a Norwegian girl of Turkish origin engaged in politics and culture. Naming a centre where children and youth can challenge their bodies and minds after Gizem is a wonderful way to honour her. Like many in her community in Norway, I am impressed by and grateful to Gaziantep.”
Gizems memory lives on also in Norway, the State Secretary said. As Gizem was supposed to study drama at Charlottenlund High School in Trondheim, her classmates dedicate a play called “An Other Place” to her. It was therefore with great pleasure Larsen could announce that the class had decided to donate all the revenues from the play, more than 11000 Euros to the Centre in Gizem Dogan’s name.
"Gizem Dogan`s story and this park brings Turkey and Norway closer together. I know that she will not be forgotten and I believe that her tragic story can also be the beginning of a long and good friendship between Norwegian and Turkish youth" Torgeir Larsen added.