Turkey no longer able to face new refugee flow: Erdoğan
“Building higher walls with barbed wire was no way to prevent irregular migration,” Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as saying in Istanbul at the 6th Ministerial Conference of the Budapest Process on Migration on Feb. 19.
He highlighted that keeping Syrian refugees within Turkey's borders cannot be considered the only way to solve the problem of migration.
He noted that the safe zone formula he proposed at the start of the Syria crisis is the most practical method for the return of refugees, adding if Turkey cannot repatriate millions of Syrians to their homes this way, sooner or later, they will knock on European doors.
There are around 260 million migrants, over 68 million displaced people and more than 25 million refugees worldwide, he said, underscoring that these numbers are increasing day by day due to hunger, famine, civil wars, terrorist attacks, political uncertainties and economic reasons.
Turkey has spent over $37 billion of its own national resources sheltering refugees, he added, citing UN figures.
Erdoğan said Turkey has become a shelter for refugees, regardless of their ethnicity, language or religion.
The Budapest Process - a consultative forum on comprehensive and sustainable systems for regular migration – has been chaired by Turkey since 2006.
Cutting off aid to Palestinians
Referring to a decision by the U.S. to cut all aid to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, Erdoğan said cutting off aid to Palestinian refugees and trying to discipline them through poverty is inhuman.
He said it is extremely wrong to use these people, who were driven from their homeland 70 years ago, as a political tool.
Referring to the UN data, he said: "I am saying this as the president of a country that hosts the highest number of refugees in the world.”
He noted that migration is a humanitarian and political issue along with its security dimension, and at the core of this issue, there is a lack of justice and empathy.