Speaking at southern border crossing Deputy PM Akdogan says all 35,000 Syrian refugees accepted into Turkey are being cared for
KILIS, Turkey – Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan has dismissed media criticism that there has been an accumulation of refugees at the Syria-Turkish border due to Ankara’s alleged unwillingness to open crossing point.
“We have been hearing criticism like ‘Turkey must open its borders; why does it not accept them?’ A piling up at the border is out of question for now.”
“There are no huge crowds reaching at the border and trying to enter,” he told reporters in the southern border province of Kilis, near Turkey’s Oncupinar Border Gate.
He was referring to a UN call that Turkey and EU states take in tens of thousands of civilians trying to escape a Russian-backed air offensive on Aleppo in northern Syria.
Akdogan reiterated that the latest announced figure of 35,000 Syrian refugees have all been provided shelter in refugee camps in Turkey near the border.
“Turkey’s open-border policy remains in place. We are opening our gates and embracing all those who flee death and fear of their lives,” he said.
The minister said that there has been a great humanitarian crisis and Turkey is always left alone.
“Turkey is the only country that does not remain indifferent to the human tragedy. It has embraced them but left alone.”
“While it has been dealing with this issue alone, the countries that have not made any contribution are displaying attitudes like ‘Turkey must open its borders’,” he added.
Akdogan stressed the need for international cooperation and solidarity with Turkey in order to tackle with the refugee problem.
“Second, this fresh migration flow must be kept at the Syrian side of the border via the establishment of civilian residential areas and a humanitarian aid line in a eight-kilometer [five mile] belt stretching between Syria’s Azaz and the Turkish border,” he said.
“If the bombardments and massacres continue … it means we must expect a new wave of migrants. The way to prevent this is to say ‘stop’ to the Assad regime and its collaborators like Russia,” he added.
Akdogan stated that Kilis province — with a central population of 93,000 — alone hosts 127,000 Syrians while 40,000 others are sheltered at camps across the territory.
He also referred to nine refugee camps built by Turkish aid agencies, mainly the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, which host 100,000 refugees on the Syrian side of the border, adding that a new camp will also be built.
With 2.62 million Syrian war survivors and 26 different camps, Turkey has become the country hosting the biggest number of refugees in the world.
Contributing nearly $9 billion to humanitarian aid during the Syrian crisis process, Turkey’s aid for Syrian refugees has been 20 times more than aid received from international organizations, according to Prime Ministry Disaster & Emergency Management Authority (AFAD).
The UNHCR has only granted $455 million to Turkey for refugees.